EVANSVILLE — Student enrollment this semester at the University of Southern is lower than officials initially anticipated.

Overall enrollment is down 2.1% percent from the fall 2019 semester, according to data collected in the university's campus enrollment census. The administration was projecting a 1.4% decline, Executive Director for Enrollment Rashad Smith said at a board meeting on Sept. 3 while presenting preliminary figures.

The school enrolled 1,286 new freshmen and 451 new transfer students for the fall 2020 semester. Those numbers fell compared with the fall 2019 semester, when they stood at 1,585 and 509 respectively.

This year's freshman class is almost 300 students smaller, a drop just shy of 20%.

The silver lining was in graduate enrollment, which has climbed for the fifth consecutive year, according to the university. It rose 14.9% compared with last fall, with a 21.9% increase in the past two years.

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In a previous interview, Vice President for Finance and Administration Steve Bridges attributed the growth largely to the school's online MBA. More than 1,000 MBA students now study at the school in either a traditional or accelerated, online program, the university said.

USI students this year come from 91 Indiana counties, 43 states and 48 countries. Four-fifths of the students are in-state. Minority and international students make up 15.6% of the student body, a record, despite a decline in international students because of pandemic-related travel restrictions.
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