AUGUSTA — The University of Maine at Augusta has seen its enrollment drop along with the entire system during the last 10 years.

UMA’s enrollment has dropped 13 percent from 2002 to 2011, from 5,722 students to 4,974, compared with a 9 percent decline seen systemwide.

University officials say when it comes to recruiting and retaining students, some of UMA’s strengths may also be weaknesses.

For example, UMA offers courses in multiple ways and locations: In Augusta and Bangor, online and through interative TV.

But having students spread around the state can result in weaker ties to the university and make it easier for students to become disengaged without anyone noticing, said Jonathan Henry, vice president of enrollment management at UMA.

A lack of campus housing also limits the pool of potential students, Henry said.

“We have no campus housing, so our ability to attract students from away is limited because we are the only commuter campus in the system,” he said.

UMA’s strategic enrollment plan lays out 34 ideas to attract more students and hold on to them until graduation. They include putting more resources into marketing, identifying and reaching out to students who stop attending classes and expanding campus visit programs.

UMA also has set up an enrollment management council, consisting of administrators and instructors.

“This council really does look at who’s here, who’s leaving, who’s staying, why are they staying?” Henry said. “If they’re leaving, why are they leaving?”

Until 2007, UMA offered classes at Lewiston-Auburn College. The University of Southern Maine now operates that campus, which is one factor in UMA’s enrollment decline, Henry said.

Henry believes enrollment head count is a less important figure than full-time equivalent enrollment, which considers how many courses students are taking. That figure has declined 0.6 percent for UMA since 2004, far less than the 13 percent drop in head count.

Community colleges have siphoned away students seeking associate degrees, but the number of students pursuing bachelor’s degrees at UMA is up 50.5 percent since 2004, Henry said.

“I’m very proud of our growth,” Henry said. “We’ve been working hard at it.”


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