- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Enrollment at Maryland's online and adult-education university is expected to grow nearly 100 percent in the next 10 years and account for much of the student growth at the state's public universities, according to data reviewed by a state committee.
The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) is projected to have 31,650 undergraduate students by 2011, up from the 16,000 that currently take courses at the school's Adelphi campus and through the Internet.
That would give UMUC the largest enrollment in the 13 institutions of the University System of Maryland, even more than the flagship College Park campus, according to a report presented last week to the finance committee of the system's Board of Regents.
According to data submitted to the board by the system schools, the number of full-time undergraduate students at the state's public universities is expected to grow 11 percent in the next 10 years to 69,500 students. Including part-time students, the growth predicted is 23 percent.
Colleges and universities across the country have seen the effects of the "baby boomlet," as children of baby boomers reach college age.
Some regents warned the growth could mean that demand will quickly outstrip the capacity of state schools to handle the larger student populations.
"We're going to need a substantial increase in the number of beds and spaces on our campuses to address this demand," said David Nevins, the committee chairman.
Maryland's three historically black schools are expected to make up much of the university system's undergraduate growth.
Coppin State College in Baltimore; University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne; and Bowie State University now account for 12 percent of the system's full-time undergraduates. Over the next 10 years, those three campuses are projected to account for 28 percent of the system's undergraduate student growth.
For UMUC, much of its expected student expansion can be handled without major new building projects.
The school has emerged as the nation's largest online education provider, with 29 undergraduate and graduate degree programs available through the Internet, most of which focus on professional and technical studies. UMUC has programs across Maryland and overseas.
Many of the undergraduates fall outside the traditional college age of 18 to 24 years old. They are adults over the age of 25 who want to finish their education or workers who can't take classes full time.
The number of part-time students at UMUC is expected to grow to 27,000 undergraduates and 16,000 graduate students by 2011. By contrast, the number of part-time undergraduates at the College Park campus is projected to fall 35 percent in 10 years.
The growth of older-student population across the system will create difficulty in making accurate enrollment predictions, according to Chancellor Donald Langenberg.
It is harder to track the number of students older than 25, compared with the narrow demographic group of 18- to 24-year-olds, he said.
"They [18- to 24-year-old students] will be a dwindling number of our college students and increasingly irrelevant to projections of enrollment," he said.
The enrollment figures will be sent to the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which uses the data for planning and funding recommendations to the state and academic institutions.


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