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Posted on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 6 a.m.

University of Michigan wants to enroll fewer students next year

By Kellie Woodhouse

Related story: University of Michigan's switch to Common App expected to bump freshman applications over 40,000

The University of Michigan wants to see significantly fewer undergraduates enrolled in its Ann Arbor campus next year.

UM Scene 12 AW.JPG

University of Michigan students study on the Diag.

Approximately 27,400 students are enrolled as undergraduates this fall. That's 2,400 more than the school would like.

“We would really like to see that number around 25,000,” said Ted Spencer, U-M admissions director. A smaller student body allows students to have more interaction with faculty, more elective options and smaller class sizes, he said.

But to get the right amount of students, the university needs to find the right admissions formula.

“We need to try to make sure that we don’t admit more students (than necessary), but really admit (enough) to reach the target that we set for the beginning of the year,” Spencer said.

This fall and last fall, the U-M was looking to enroll approximately 5,970 freshmen. However this fall the school was nearly 300 students off the mark, which is still a smaller margin of error than in 2010, when the school enrolled nearly 6,500 students. That was 500 more freshmen than U-M anticipated.

The university will once again attempt an enrollment of 5,970 next year.

“It may mean that we will admit fewer students,” Spencer said.

This fall, the university offered admission to 16,073 students, compared to 16,006 a year ago, according to recently released U-M figures.

U-M increased its admissions offers slightly because the school expected a larger denial rate than years past. That's due to the university's switch to the Common Application, Spencer said. The new system makes it easier for students to apply to multiple schools, giving U-M more competition.

Spencer said the university plans on further tweaking its admissions formula.

After U-M's 2010 enrollment came in higher than expected, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman told the Michigan Daily that the university is “trying to shrink.”

“We don’t want this,” Coleman said. “This isn’t a planned increase in the student population.”

Total enrollment at U-M this year is 42,716— a record high. About 57 percent of those students are out-of-state, compared to approximately 58 percent in 2010. Of freshmen, around 40 percent are non-residents.

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The 792-student uptick marks a 2.8 percent increase in graduate students and a 1.4 percent increase in undergraduates. Of graduate students, about 56 percent are non-residents; approximately 37 percent of undergraduates are non-residents.

Non-residents account for approximately two-thirds of undergraduate applicants, Spencer said.

“The University of Michigan is very unique in that respect,” Spencer said.

“We’ve been around since 1817. We have really been a very popular school for a number of students. We have over 500,000 living alums, and they live all over the world and all over the state.”

Spencer said striking the right balance between resident and non-resident students can be tricky for U-M, which has obligations as a state school, but is also considered one of the top universities in the nation.

“We have to work at it very hard,” Spencer said.

Spencer said that while the university is “competing with Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Penn,” its commitment to Michigan students remains a priority.

“There is a strong desire to make sure that the citizens of the state of Michigan have a big advantage in being admitted to the university,” he said.

Minority enrollment has also slightly decreased.

Underrepresented minorities represent 10.5 percent of the freshman class, compared to 10.6 percent last year.

Underrepresented minorities do not include Asians, which make up approximately 16 percent of enrollment at U-M. According to U-M statistics, 1,747 enrolled individuals applied from China. A total of 5,595 enrolled students applied from a foreign country.

Approximately 5 percent of U-M’s student body is Hispanic. Another 6 percent is black and slightly more than 1 percent is Native American.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

Over the years, Ted Spencer has done a poor job of managing the quantity of students attending U of M. So often the students in dorms are having to stay in converted lounges and other substandard University housing; and the students lose their lounge. Sure, it is not easy to not have over acceptance to the U, but Mr. Spencer is paid very well to do a job he is not doing adequately. How can one not know that if the common app(lication) is being used for the first time, making it so much easier for students to apply to U of M, that admissions standards have to take this into account!


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 11:23 a.m.

With lower enrollments who is going to live in all of the new student apartment buildings being built in town ?


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

This is a public university funded, in large part, by taxpayer dollars. 5.8% of the undergraduates are international. 30% of the graduates are international. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I hope the University remembers where it is located and who it serves when the enrollment is reduced. Over 1$ billion from us taxpayers (over 300 million from the state and over 700 million from the feds). <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:12 p.m.

&quot;This is a public university funded, in large part, by taxpayer dollars.&quot; NOT SO MUCH. About 17% off the budget is funded by the State of Michigan. More than 17% of the students are from the state.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

At a time when many technical jobs are going unfilled due to the inability of companies to find skilled workers our education system further reduces the number of candidates. We need to increase the number college graduates our system of education produces. And yes, there are under skilled or people who also need skill training who could fill these jobs but we need to pursue all avenues available to create a highly skilled workforce.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:08 p.m.

&quot;.and what right-winger ever said &quot;education is useless&quot; The basic fact that you consider one major more important than another shows you do not care about education, you care about skills. There is a MAJOR difference. The fact that the current right wingers who occupy the governors office in the state of Florida would be the shining example <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It's funny how the right wing says let the free market decide things, but then decides to give special preferences to certain fields of study. As for the salary numbers of engineers versus business majors, it is simply not relevant. People in sales tend to make more money than those in engineering too. I would bet if you did a study of those graduating from the football or basketball program you would find starting salaries higher. If you honestly think people choose a business major over an engineering major based on ease and money you really should take some LSA courses in sociology, political science, and psychology to learn more about human behavior.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

everydayguy: Interesting points. It wouldn't surprise me that the brightest students, given the option between business and engineering, would tend to gravitate towards business. We have our theories why they do: difficulty, salary expectations, etc... but I want to say a large part of it is lack of student interest, just based on gut observation. It surprises me that in this day and age, we still don't take much consideration to fostering interest and education in engineering and computers... intro classes for these are virtually non-existent at the high school level: why would freshmen suddenly jump into an engineering major once they reached college? Right now, its only self-interest and extra-curricular activities that inspire new students to declare engineering majors (or so I would guess from my own experience.) Perhaps, its a lack of discovery and exposure that is really holding back those programs. Likely, this is some compounding effect with both salary expectations and program difficulty as well. All that said, however, we still need more engineers... the lack thereof is stunting the growth on one of the most vibrant sectors of our economy.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

&quot;Anybody who wants education to only be about a job shows their ignorance.&quot; And anybody who wants education to only be about enjoying their time in college is unemployed. There's a fine line of idealism and practicality to be walked here. ...and what right-winger ever said &quot;education is useless&quot;?


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

Here's an interesting data point. Looking at UM undergraduate Engineering and Business School data, the median (2010) starting salary for an engineer was $61,000. Compare that to the median (2011) starting salary for an undergraduate business student at $64,398. While admittedly subjective, I will say based upon personal experience that the engineering program is, for lack of a better descriptor, hellish. While not intended to discount the academic rigor of the BBA program, I think many people who have experienced both would rate the Engineering program as more foreboding. In addition, consider this story from CNN: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Given that story, plus the fact that business students tend to make a bit more than engineering students out of the gate (not to mention differences in GPAs and management promotion timeframes), and considering the differences in the overall social/networking experiences between the two schools, is it really so mysterious why many bright students might tend to steer away from Engineering or other very technical disciplines? I realize these are just two data points, but perhaps it hints at something deeper. Let discussion ensue... Salary Sources: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

Interesting theory Dave. Why not give us the figures of unemployment for ALL college graduates in this country? It hovers around 4.5%. That includes majors like philosophy and majors like engineering. Of course the right wing thinks education is useless and everybody should only have degrees that give people a trade. Anybody who wants education to only be about a job shows their ignorance.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

You're right about the technical jobs part. Unfortunately, even if you bring in more students, too many of them would avoid the school of Engineering, and opt for majors in more the generalized [and generally useless] areas that won't land them jobs. Then, they'll likely go on to complain about unemployment, and perhaps occupy a local public park.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

Good thing the city is approving any student housing project that comes forward. more vacant down town buildings &quot;Underrepresented minorities represent 10.5 percent of the freshman class, &quot; &quot;Approximately 5 percent of U-M's student body is Hispanic. Another 6 percent is black and slightly more than 1 percent is Native American&quot; = according to my college education this adds up to 12% not 10.5% I'm just sayin...


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

Did your college education teach you the difference between &quot;U-M's student body&quot; and &quot; the freshman class&quot;? Maybe you were sick that day.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

There's a difference between percentage of freshman class and percentage of student body.

Buster W.

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

Maybe the actual percentages are 4.5%, 5.5% and .5% --- and just rounding each of them up???

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

Smart, let's try to go for quality, not quantity?

Smart Logic

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

When quantity is down, it beats quality. When quantity is up, quality wins.

Ahmar Iqbal

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

Ok, so 20% of applications are overseas students. That means a significant amount of more tuition. Plus they want to compete with Harvard, Penn, Princeton, etc. So will the shrinkage in student enrollment be targeting towards in-state students???

Buster W.

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

In real numbers, absolutely I would imagine a significant portion of the applicants are Michigan residents. It would be very interesting to see some kind of geographic breakdown of all applicants AND admitted students.