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UMaine System enrollment is down, while some Maine community and private colleges see increases

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While Maine's public universities are seeing fewer new students this fall, some of Maine's private colleges say enrollment is rebounding as they return to a more normal school year.

The University of New England, in Biddeford, says it's bringing in about 850 new undergrads - the largest class in its history. And Waterville's Thomas College says new undergraduate enrollment is up by nearly 20%.

Debbie Cunningham, Thomas' vice president of student success, said that many students appear to be eager to return to in-person learning after COVID-19 restrictions led many to reconsider college in previous years.

"And in this entering class, we're also seeing a return of international students on campus. In fact, we may have the largest group of international students that we've ever had," Cunningham said.

The Maine Community College system is reporting a 12% increase in enrollment, based on early estimates. But the student count at the University of Maine System is currently down by about 6% from last year.