PHOENIX — Arizona's university campuses will be crowded this fall semester as two of the state's biggest schools prepare to accommodate some of their largest classes of first-year students.
Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are reporting record-high numbers for the amount of first-year students planning to attend their campuses this fall semester.
ASU welcomed more than 14,400 first-year students across its four Valley campuses this week, which is a 12% increase from last year's on-campus freshmen class.
ASU said this year's incoming class of new students is the largest it's experienced since the university first opened its doors in 1886.
More than 11,000 first-year students will be taking classes at the university's Tempe campus, while the rest will be enrolled at the ASU campuses in Phoenix and Mesa.
UArizona is expecting to see its largest first-year class of students when classes begin on the university's Tucson campus on Aug. 23.
With more than 8,700 new students enrolled for the fall semester, UArizona is planning to welcome the biggest incoming class it's ever seen.
The university has not had a first-year class this big since 2015 when UArizona had about 8,000 new students arrive at its campus.
"I am so proud to welcome our largest class of first-year Wildcats to campus for a new year of learning and exploration," said UArizona President Robert Robbins. "This year's incoming class demonstrates our strong commitment to being one of the most inclusive universities in the nation and world."
UArizona additionally saw a record number of first-year student applications in 2021, at nearly 48,000. Last year, the Tucson-based university received about 43,000 applications from first-year students.
The enrollment growths in Arizona come at a precarious time when both universities are still grappling with how to keep students and staff safe from contracting the coronavirus.
Despite having to implement several health guidelines on their campuses, neither ASU nor UArizona appears to have seen a flood of students unenroll due to the pandemic's ongoing restrictions.
"Even as we work through the challenges that the pandemic poses, we look forward to offering students opportunities to continue pursuing their education and career goals," President Robbins added.
But not all institutions of higher learning have been reporting huge gains in student enrollment.
The Maricopa Community College District said its enrollment figures were down in the weeks leading up to the new semester.
As of Aug. 11, the college district reported having 61,647 students enrolled at its 10 campuses for the fall semester, which is 6% less than the previous school year.
Community colleges throughout the nation reported experiencing declines in enrollment throughout the pandemic.
In the fall of 2020, enrollment at two-year public colleges dropped nationwide by about 10% from the previous year.
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