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Influx of returned LDS Church missionaries may explain enrollment jump at DSU

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Posted at 7:37 PM, Oct 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-10 09:03:09-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah - While many universities across the state showed a decrease in enrollment this fall, at Dixie State University the student population is up for the first time in two years.

A report released Wednesday by the Utah System of Higher Education shows Dixie State saw a 2.63 percent increase in enrollment, which amounts to about 220 students. Public Relations Director Steve Johnson said that has a lot to do with an increase in first time freshmen, as that number rose by 15.5 percent.

“Since the fall of 2008, we’re 33 percent ahead of where of where we were five, six, seven years ago in terms of overall head count,” Johnson said.

The increase may have to do with the return of a large number of missionaries who served with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Two years ago, the LDS Church lowered the age for missionary service, and universities felt the impact. Johnson said it’s still too soon to tell, but this may be the beginning.

“We’ll also see how we look in January with our spring enrollment numbers,” Johnson said. “And again, we’ll see next fall when the missionaries that left early two years ago are going to be back and hopefully getting ready to go to college.”

A Utah System of Higher Education report indicates that about half of the universities in Utah showed increases, but others like Southern Utah University showed a slight decrease in enrollment. That decrease was less than 2 percent, which amounts to about 89 students.

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