Enrollment at the five University of Massachusetts campuses shot up 27 percent over the past decade and surpassed the 74,000 mark for the first time this year, presenting university overseers with a welcome challenge: managing growth.
Over the last decade, student enrollment at UMass has risen almost 27 percent — from 58,939 in the fall of 2006 to the current 74,678 — making the system "one of the fastest-growing universities, public or private, in the nation," UMass officials reported on Wednesday.
"UMass continues to grow as more and more students and their families recognize the value that our university provides," UMass President Martin Meehan said in a statement released following a Board of Trustees meeting in Lowell.
Most of the university's students are assembled at the system's flagship campus in Amherst, where enrollment is knocking on the 30,000 mark. The 29,715 students enrolled at Amherst this fall marked a 16.1 percent increase over the fall 2006 enrollment figure of 25,593.
The university has seen its largest enrollment surges in Lowell and Boston. Enrollment at UMass-Lowell rose more than 61 percent over the past 10 years, from 11,208 to 18,058. Enrollment at the harborside campus in Boston rose from 12,262 in 2006 to 17,085 this fall, a 38.2 percent increase.
Enrollment at UMass-Dartmouth was flat for most of the past decade. Decreases in each of the last two years at that campus, where a search for a new chancellor is underway, left it with slightly fewer students this fall — 8,716 — than it had in the fall of 2006, when enrollment there stood at 8,756.
Enrollment at UMass Medical School in Worcester, at 1,104, is up 8.2 percent over the last decade.
In the most recent U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, the four UMass undergraduate campuses made the magazine's top category, the first time that all four earned that designation. The Amherst campus was ranked the 27th best public university in the nation, UMass-Lowell rose to 78 and UMass-Boston and UMass-Dartmouth were tied at 220. About one in 10 degree-granting four-year colleges and universities made the national universities listing this year, according to UMass.
Undergraduate enrollment at UMass rose 1.2 percent over 2015 to 56,927 students and graduate enrollment increased 1.5 percent to 17,751 students. Enrollment at UMass Medical School, which only serves graduate students, increased 2.3 percent over the year. UMass Medical this year for the first time opened a limited number of seats to out-of-state students and applications shot up from 1,882 in 2015 to 4,126 this year.