Flint, MI—Following years of decline in overall student enrollment, the University of Michigan-Flint is pushing forward with new recruitment goals and initiatives in a bid to turn the tide. 

On December 2, 2022, UM-Flint officials presented targets and strategies for recruitment at both the university’s undergraduate and graduate schools.

For undergraduate programs, the university aims to increase the number of new students and transfer students by 8% between fall 2022 and fall 2023.

According to campus data, UM-Flint saw a nearly 7.6% rise in new students and transfer students in its undergraduate school from fall 2021 to fall 2022, but that uptick came after years of enrollment decline.

“While we improved in that one year, it’s going to take multiple years of improvement in new student enrollment for that to start to reflect in our overall enrollment,” Joe Vainner, director of admissions at UM-Flint’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, told Flint Beat. 

Since 2014, UM-Flint’s overall student headcount in the fall has decreased by close to 30.2 percent. This year, the fall headcount was 5,985 students—down from 8,574 students in 2014—with 4,609 undergraduates and 1,376 graduate students. 

The university’s local recruitment efforts target areas including Genesee, Oakland, Lapeer and Wayne counties, but UM-Flint is also recruiting internationally, according to Vainner’s presentation.

“Our mission is to serve our Flint and Genesee County students, so we have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to do that,” Vainner said. “At the same time, if we’re going to grow, we also have to get some students from outside of this area.” 

The drop in the number of high school graduates in Genesee County and more broadly in Michigan poses the biggest challenge in boosting undergraduate enrollment, Vainner added. 

“Most of our students come from within an hour of here,” Vainner said. “If you were to draw that 60 mile circle around our campus, it’s going to be primarily areas that are losing population.”

Another part of the university’s efforts to attract undergraduates includes making scholarships more accessible to students.

When it comes to merit scholarships, which are awarded based on academic achievement, the university is lowering the eligibility requirement of a minimum high school grade point average (GPA) from 3.0 to 2.7, according to Vainner.

Further, merit scholarships for students who do not submit SAT or ACT test scores and have a high school GPA of at least 3.7 are increasing to $3,000, up from $1,000.

Additionally, merit scholarships are now available to part-time transfer students, whereas previously only full-time UM-Flint students were eligible for such scholarships.

UM-Flint also recently launched a guaranteed-admission program for qualified transfer students with an associate of science degree or an associate of arts degree.

When it comes to the university’s graduate school, UM-Flint aims to enroll 387 new students for fall 2023, according to a presentation by Christopher Lewis, UM-Flint’s director of graduate programs.

Unlike the rate of new undergraduate enrollment, the school’s number of new graduate students has been fairly stable over the years. While Lewis said UM-Flint’s graduate programs are “alive and well,” he noted there’s still value in improving current programs and creating new ones.

“We are continuing to broaden and expand the graduate programs that we offer here at the university as we review and make our existing programs stronger,” Lewis said. “We’re continuing to see increased interest on all fronts in regards to our students.”

Next year, UM-Flint will be launching various new graduate programs, including a doctorate in business administration, a master in health services administration, joint degrees in biology, and dual degrees in master of public health and master of business administration, according to Lewis.

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...