BUTTE — The University of Montana Western is experiencing record enrollment for the second year in a row, Chancellor Richard Storey announced Monday in a news release.

The UMW count estimates put fall 2010 full-time equivalent students at 1,290, the highest since the university began tracking the statistic in 1973 and about a 9 percent increase from last year.

The full-time equivalent is used to draw a clearer picture of enrollment by taking the total credit hours generated by students divided by 15.

Montana Western’s current fall 2010 headcount estimate is 1,336, about a 7 percent increase over last year.

Official numbers will be released to the state Board of Regents next week.

Montana Western is the only public college in the country to deliver classes on a block schedule in which students take one class at a time during a “block” lasting 18 days. Students can earn the same amount of credits during a semester (four blocks) as students do in traditional scheduling systems.

Students can begin attending during any block of the semester, which offers students more flexibility but also provides the registrar challenges in dialing in final numbers.

“It is difficult to know what the final number will be because if, for example, a student who is a firefighter isn’t beginning class until the third block, we can’t make sure that student will have paid and be in class because the third block hasn’t started yet,” UMW Registrar Jason Karch said. “I can state fairly certainly that we will be looking at close to a 10 percent increase over last year’s FTE numbers.”

Kent Ord, director of university relations, said several factors contribute to UMW’s higher numbers, including niche block scheduling.

According to current data, Montana Western experienced a 9.6 percent increase in Montana resident students and a 13.4 percent increase in nonresident students. A transfer student increase is also continuing to help boost enrollment numbers, 11.2 percent over fall 2009.

“While we have been going to wider out-of-state markets, we are also still aggressively seeking in-state students,” Ord said.

(2) comments


I think block scheduling is a dandy idea, especially for non-traditional students wishing to finish out a degree... it need not take an entire semester to get one or two classes under one's belt. Plus it allows students to focus on individual subjects one at a time rather than having to split their focus among several courses. It always was difficult to get all the homework and studying done for a full 18 credit course load; it always seemed like three different term papers fell due on the same day as a test! Good for Western for creatively meeting the needs of students! Enrollment numbers say they're doing it right.

The Big L
The Big L

I would rather see graduation rates be applauded instead of how many enroll.

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