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Maine's public universities get more applications for the fall, but less enrollment so far

In this photo made Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, blue-shirted upperclassmen help move items belonging to incoming freshman at the University of Maine in Orono.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
In this photo made Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, blue-shirted upperclassmen help move items belonging to incoming freshman at the University of Maine in Orono.

More students are applying to Maine's public universities this year — but so far, fewer are enrolling to attend next fall.

Robert Placido, the University of Maine System's vice chancellor for academic affairs, shared that information with the system's board of trustees on Monday.

Placido said that university recruiters made it a goal to get into schools in recent months to generate interest, resulting in more applications.

But Placido said with more resources on recruiting, and growing uncertainty among students about higher education in the face of COVID-19 and other world challenges, the number of those students who have so far enrolled for the fall semester is down by about 20%, compared to the same time a year ago.

"There is a lot of anxiety about, is it worth it right now?" Placido said. "There are just so many things. It's almost biblical, in the number of things going on right now. So students are nervous about coming. They need one more touchpoint, maybe, than last year."

But Placido said enrollment numbers so far are still better than in some other, recent years. And he expects more students will matriculate as the system shifts more of its focus towards application processing and admissions.