Non-degree enrollment put on hold as University nears population cap

The University suspended new non-degree enrollment this semester to make room for more full-time students as it nears a city-imposed population cap.

The number of non-degree students has hovered near 600 since 2007, a figure that dropped to 423 this fall, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

“It goes without saying that the University’s first obligation is to those students who are matriculated in a degree program,” Craig Linebaugh, senior associate provost of academic operations, said.

The total student head count on the Foggy Bottom Campus was 19,781 in fall 2011 – a figure that can’t exceed the legal limit of 20,000. Full-time student enrollment – capped at 16,553 – reached 15,652 this year.

Non-degree students are those not enrolled in a major program, often to supplement other education.

“The overall number of students did not go down, but there was a slight change in the composition of the student population in that there are more degree-seeking students and fewer non-degree students,” Linebaugh said.

He said there were no significant financial consequences of losing the non-degree students, because the University was able to admit more degree-seeking students.

Director of the Office of Non-Degree Students Timothy Terpstra said at an event last month that the University turned away “a couple hundred” non-degree students because of the enrollment cap.

If all interested non-degree students had been allowed to register, the University might have seen $850,000 in additional revenue, Terpstra estimated.

He suggested that off-campus non-degree enrollment be marketed in the future as a way of bringing in revenue without contributing to the student population.

Although non-degree students bring a variety of experiences to the classroom, suspending their enrollment has allowed the University to improve its academic quality.

“Limiting enrollment at GW allows the University to be more selective. Having a better prepared student population enhances the academic experience for all GW students,” Linebaugh said.

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