Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass five-campus system reaches record enrollment numbers

By Brendan Deady

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(Photo by Tosca Drum)

(Photo by Tosca Drum)

The University of Massachusetts five college campuses are collectively projected to serve a record number of students this fall, according to a UMass press release.  This surge in enrollment contributes to an overall growth in the UMass system that not only serves Massachusetts residents, but also stimulates the state’s economy, according to a report by the Donahue Institute of the Isenberg School of Management.

Enrollment numbers throughout UMass’ Amherst, Lowell, Dartmouth, Boston and Worcester campuses are projected at 73,614 students for this academic year, a 30 percent surge from a decade ago.

“Over the past decade, families across the Commonwealth have realized that UMass is the smart choice on so many levels. … I am very proud that UMass has become the home for so many sons and daughters of the Commonwealth,” President Robert L. Caret said at a meeting with the UMass Board of Trustees on Academic and Student Affairs last week in Boston.

The increase in just the number of applications alone was likewise at a record high this year for the UMass system, causing acceptance standards to rise throughout the system.

The average SAT score for the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s entering freshman class rose ten points from last year to 1218 and the average GPA rose from a 3.73 to a 3.78 according to the press release.

“The number of applications and the quality of our students is rising throughout our campuses as more and more students and parents recognize the excellence and affordability of UMass and the value of their public university,” Caret said.

Ann Scales, director of communications at UMass, attributes the rising number of students and applicants to the quality and affordability that a UMass education provides, particularly in a time where attending college is becoming increasingly expensive.

“People want the best quality in their product for the best price and with education it’s no different,” Scales said. “The surge in enrollment is recognition of the amazing value for an amazing quality of education offered by the University of Massachusetts.”

Anthony Desalvo, freshman biology major from Boston, reinforced this sentiment.

“One of the main reasons I chose UMass Amherst was because of the cost, it made the most sense to go to an affordable school. Also UMass is known to have a strong science program. The College of Natural Sciences is ranked in the top 100 in the country,” he said.

Desalvo is one of 9,314 freshman expected to have enrolled into the four undergraduate program of the UMass system at this year, an slight increase from last year according to the press release.

“We’ve had to respond by building new academic facilities, new residence halls and other facilities to serve new students,” Caret told the Boston Globe in early September.

UMass spent $3 billion over the past decade on construction. The unprecedented level of expansion is one of many beneficial effects that the growth of the UMass system has played on the Massachusetts economy.

Spending tied to UMass employees, operations, research, students and construction as well as a $6.1 billion contribution to the Massachusetts economy in the Fiscal Year 2013 was responsible for establishing over 45,000 jobs, according the report released by the Donahue Institute.

“This report demonstrates that in addition to providing academic excellence…the University of Massachusetts is a significant economic driver for the Commonwealth,” President Caret said according to the UMass press release.

UMass’s economic contributions are assisted by the fact that so many of its graduates utilize their educations in surrounding communities.

According to Daniel Fitzgibbons, associate director for Media Relations at UMass, the University has the highest percent of graduates that stay in-state than any other university in Massachusetts

“Our graduates put their education to use in Massachusetts, they work here, consume, pay taxes and contribute to an intelligent work-force,” Fitzgibbons said.

“This is why the record number of enrollment is such great news,” Scales added. “It leads to a more qualified student population that graduates ready to assist our state’s economy. And the construction of new facilities and the new facilities themselves provide jobs for people of many communities. Everyone benefits from a growing and stronger public education system in Massachusetts.”

Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected]

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