Despite falling enrollment, MU records second-highest retention rate

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COLUMBIA - MU is holding students at a better rate than previous years, according to recently released data. 

According to the MU News Bureau, the university's retention rate for the last year was 87 percent, just off the school's record for retention.

Freshmen enrollment is also up, with 4,134 first years starting at MU this fall, up from the projected number of 4,009 expected freshmen based on preliminary numbers last May.

MU News Bureau Director Christian Basi said these numbers reflect a positive change at the University of Missouri that is attracting students.

“It’s indicating to us that students are having a very good experience on campus. They’re having a successful experience, and they’re coming back because they know we’ll provide them with the skills that will make them competitive in the workplace.”

Despite Basi’s positive view on the situation, there is a clear shift in MU's enrollment in the last two years. In Fall 2015, MU set a record high with approximately 35,000 enrolled students, after seeing numbers increase steadily in the years prior. Now more than two years later, the enrollment situation has become apparent to university officials.

“We know that a large portion of it is the perception of the MU campus, and many people have differing thoughts about that and so it’s not just one specific thing. It’s a lot of differing things related to an overall perception of the campus.”

There were 2,000 fewer students in 2016 compared to 2015, and that number continued to decline into 2017.

Falling enrollment numbers have also had an impact on the university’s budget, something that caused the university to scramble to find quick solutions.

MU has closed at least four dorms temporarily, as well as eliminated jobs due to declining enrollment numbers. Basi said the university has been trying to find ways address the situation.

“We have new leadership across the campus. We have a new chancellor, new president. We have new vice chancellors, a new dean. New people in place that were not here two years ago, and we know things have change over the course of two years. We’ve done a lot on the campus."

Basi said the university will continue to do what they can to provide a welcoming environment to students, both future and those currently attending.