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An empty chair in Smith Plaza facing Zimmerman Library on Sept. 25, 2019

UNM sees another decline in enrollment

For the seventh consecutive year, student enrollment at the University of New Mexico has dropped — certain to cause a ripple of effects in funding throughout the University.

Undergraduate enrollment fell 6.5% (16,170) for the fall 2019 semester, while combined graduate and professional enrollment fell 6% (6,130), contributing to a five-year decline of 16.67% (22,792). The Albuquerque Journal reported that UNM expects a $4 million budget shortfall as a result of the enrollment decline.

In 2018, UNM saw a $10 million shortfall from a 7% decline.

"It’s never nice when you have to (fill) a budget shortfall," Holloway told the Journal. "We have the reserves to do it. Spending reserves this way will probably mean not doing some other things. There will have to be some strategic choices made, but we can manage this."

The enrollment decline has not been universal across all University colleges and schools, according to headcount data from the Office of Enrollment Reports.

Over the last five years, University College has seen the largest decline. The 80% decline from a 2015 high of 8,719 students brings the college’s enrollment to 1,674 in 2019. The College of Engineering has also seen a significant decline from 2,287 in 2015 to 1,881 in 2019 — a 17.75% decline.

Some schools and colleges that have maintained or even grown their enrollment headcount saw a decline in 2019. Anderson School of Management has seen a two year decline from a 2017 high of 2,446 to 2,102. The School of Nursing went from 794 in 2017 to 721 in 2019, a 9.19% decline.

Many of the smaller schools and colleges at UNM have actually seen an enrollment increase. Fine Arts saw a slight increase from 994 in 2015 to 1,004 in 2019. College of Population Health grew from 63 in 2015 to 82 in 2019.

This is the first in a series of articles about UNM’s enrollment decline and its effects.

Justin Garcia is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @Just516garc

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