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OREM -- School is back in session at Utah's colleges and universities. Enrollment is up at a time when budgets have been dramatically cut.
Official enrollment numbers won't be in for another three weeks, but one thing is certain: the numbers are up, and Utah Valley University is getting close to 30,000 students and the campus is getting crowded.
Classes at UVU got underway Wednesday, and there is a lot of excitement on campus for a new school year. This is the second year that UVU is operating at university status and that appears to be part of the reason for 10 to 12 percent more students on campus. Many students are also looking at higher education at a time when jobs are harder to find.
Utah's colleges and universities face a challenge with higher enrollments after they've face drastic budget cuts. For example, UVU is operating with a 17 percent drop in funding while trying to maintain a full schedule of classes.
"We've explored different options with schedules, so we've created more Monday-Wednesday afternoon schedules, which gives them more flexibility. We've hired additional adjunct faculty, and so that has helped us to be able to meet this demand. But we are feeling like we are running out of headroom, for sure," said UVU President Matthew Holland.
Other colleges and universities are dealing with similar enrollment numbers. For example, at Dixie State in St. George they are dealing with the largest freshmen class ever, and enrollment is topping 7,000 students.
When the final enrollment numbers are sent to the state Board of Regents in October, they will be used for the higher education budget. They will ultimately be presented to state lawmakers to make decisions on funding next year.