The UNC System set an enrollment record this Fall semester, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused several of its largest schools to shift to online-only for undergraduates.
There are 242,464 total students enrolled at UNC System campuses this Fall, the system announced Thursday. That’s an increase of 1 percent system-wide over last year. Undergraduate enrollment increased 0.2 percent over last year and graduate enrollment is up by 4 percent.
“It’s a remarkable achievement, and it reflects the determination of our students, the dedication of our faculty and staff, and the enduring value of public higher education,” said UNC System President Peter Hans. “Every one of those students is making a critical investment in their own future and in the future of our state.”
Eight of the system’s 17 schools have recorded record enrollments — Appalachian State University, Fayetteville State University, N.C. A&T State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, and Western Carolina University.
“The fact that our institutions were able to welcome a record-breaking class of students all in the midst of a national crisis is remarkable,” Hans said during a press conference after Thursday’s UNC Board of Governors meeting. “I simply cannot say enough about the faculty, the staff and the students themselves who have shown such determination in the face of such daunting obstacles. And I’m proud to have been a small part of that collective effort.”
“Thirteen of our institutions continue to offer in-person learning for undergraduate students,” Hans said. “Three [UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and East Carolina University] have transitioned undergraduate education online, continuing to offer a world class education at a very challenging moment. We’ll have clarification about UNC-Charlotte next week.”
“I think all of us went into the Fall hoping for some version of a normal semester — or as normal as it could be with masks and social distancing,” Hans said. “But we also knew and expected that campuses would adapt as local conditions changed. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.”
Hans also touted the fact that tuition has remained flat at UNC System schools for the last four years, offering what he called “a tremendous value.” He called for the system to make it five years in a row.
“We need to offer students and family a little uncertainty in a deeply uncertain time,” Hans said. “Keeping a lid on tuition is the right thing to do for North Carolina and the right thing to do for families facing economic hardship.”