Montana State University Billings saw a decrease in student enrollment after its 15th class day count.
Current enrollment for the university is 4,000 students, a decrease of 416 students, or 9.4%, from the fall 2019 semester.
Interim Chancellor Rolf Groseth said Tuesday afternoon that the drop in enrollment was anticipated due to COVID-19.
“We have been hearing from the higher education press and the associations that campuses were going to have anywhere from a 5 to a 20% decrease this year,” said Groseth.
Groseth said at 9.4%, MSUB is at the lower end of the spectrum for decreased enrollment among other campuses in the country.
According to Groseth, one reason for declining student enrollment this year was a limited ability for dual-enrolled students to sign up for classes.
“Normally, we would have started about now and the public schools would have been in session for a while. We started before the public schools and the dual enrollment students had less time to enroll in those courses,” said Groseth.
While university enrollment data showed a decline, Groseth said they have seen an increase in retention and enrollment for mental and behavioral health programs both at the graduate and undergraduate level.
“People are feeling anxious and they want to understand and learn about how those anxieties develop, how mental disorders develop, and what we can do to help people overcome them. People want to be on the front edge of that and I think that is a big part of increase in enrollment in those areas,” said Groseth.