Number of North Dakota high school students enrolled in college courses hits record high – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Nearly 80 percent of undergraduate students enrolled in North Dakota’s university system come from just two states — North Dakota and Minnesota — according to the organization’s director of institutional research.

Jen Weber, director of institutional research, cited the statistic in a presentation ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the State Board of Higher Education. North Dakota students make up 55% of NDUS’s undergraduate population, with Minnesota students making up 24%.

“NDUS relies heavily on students from North Dakota and Minnesota,” Weber said. “The same goes for graduate students, 64% of whom are from both states as well.”

The NDUS Census Data Report contains comprehensive NDUS enrollment data by county. Cass County leads in enrollment with 5,472 students, followed by Burleigh, Grand Forks and Ward counties.

Of Grand Forks County’s 2,880 students enrolled in the university system, the vast majority — 2,172 — are enrolled at UND, North Dakota’s largest college-represented county. Cass and Burleigh counties are second and third in terms of representation at UND, with 944 and 540 students respectively.

Cumulative enrollment within the NDUS is up 0.4% from last fall, compared to an average enrollment decline of 1.1% nationally. Additionally, while enrollment declined by approximately 7% nationwide between 2019 and 2022, NDUS enrollment declined by only 3.1%, according to a press release from the organization.

File photo of University of North Dakota System Chancellor Mark Hagerott. Jesse Trelstad / Grand Forks Herald

NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott attributes relatively stable enrollment figures to the adaptability of the organization’s institutions.

“The leaders of our colleges and universities are to be commended for adapting and transforming their institutions,” Hagerott said, via the press release. “The 11 institutions continue to strive to provide affordable education and courses that people want, where and when they want them, while simultaneously meeting the state’s workforce needs.”

The significant increase in the number of dual-enrollment high school students is one of the factors contributing to the increase in enrollment at NDUS. According to the census data report, 4,668 North Dakota high school students are taking college credit courses, an increase of 813 students from the previous year.

The Fall 2022 dual-enrollment cohort is the largest in NDUS history. Billie Jo Lorius, director of communications and media for NDUS, attributed the dual enrollment gain to state inducement.

“We believe the increase is due to the enactment of HB 1375 – a scholarship program that was passed in the last legislative session,” Lorius said.

The text of the bill states that eligible students can receive up to 50% of the cost of their dual credit course, not to exceed $750 per course.

The number of graduate students within NDUS is also at an all-time high – 6,585 – which has nearly tripled over the past 20 years. Lorius cites more professions requiring higher degrees as one reason for this trend.

“I know someone on a youth football council in Fargo,” Lorius said. “They hire sports medicine professionals to coach all of their games. These people, and others at Sanford Health, confirm that a master’s degree is now required to be an athletic trainer. If and when you increase education requirements, it forces more people to take advanced programs to graduate.

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