IOWA CITY — Iowa State University, which has seen its student body swell 44 percent in the past decade, has succeeded in slowing its growth, according to fall enrollment figures announced Thursday.
The University of Iowa, likewise, reported a slightly smaller freshman class of 5,029, making it the third-largest class in the university's history after two record-setting years. Its total enrollment remains up slightly, at 33,564 from 33,334 last fall.
The state’s largest public universities in recent months have expressed intentions to focus on quality over quantity as state support wanes, hurting the schools’ ability to attract and retain top faculty and continue offering an elite academic experience to growing student bodies.
Iowa State University this fall is counting 36,321 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, compared with 36,660 last year. Its freshman class, like at Iowa, is smaller than last year — 5,944 compared with 6,325 in fall 2016.
The University of Northern Iowa, which unlike its counterparts has intentions to grow, reported flat total enrollment this fall — 11,907, compared with 11,905 last fall. Its new freshman class is smaller than last year’s 2,000 students, with 1,834 enrolled this fall.
Northern Iowa’s undergraduate enrollment is down nearly 100 students, to 10,005, compared with 10,104 last fall. Countering that decline is an increase in graduate students — 1,902, compared with 1,801 last year.
The Board of Regents later this year will consider increasing tuition rates on all three campuses after state lawmakers cut millions in state support this year and last.
Iowa State and Iowa officials on Thursday told the Board of Regents about efficiencies under way on the campuses.
Iowa President Bruce Harreld reported a regents-wide efficiency review on his campus has allowed for reinvestment of $16.6 million since the 2016 budget year, with the largest chunk projected for this year.
Going forward, according to Harreld, the university intends to save and reallocate $11 million to $12 million in its strategic plan.
The university, he said, needs to invest $155 million to $165 million in its strategic plan to improve student outcomes through — specifically — retaining and hiring elite faculty, increasing research and scholarship and improving student programming.
Harreld, in his enrollment report to the regents, also noted increases in first-generation and resident students at Iowa, aligning with his campus’ mission. Nearly 23 percent of the new first-year class at Iowa — or 1,145 — are first-generation students, while nearly 58 percent — or 2,907 — are Iowa residents.
Iowa State University Interim President Ben Allen reported, despite the decreases, his campus this fall welcomed its most diverse student body. Its international and U.S. multicultural representation totals 8,789 — a record — and its international students represent 127 countries, also a record.