Space Constraints Forces Tribal College to Close Doors on Enrollment

BISMARCK, N.D.

A housing shortage on the campus of United Tribes Technical College has led the college to cut off enrollment.

President David E. Gipp says, for the second year in a row, the college is anticipating a fall enrollment of more than 1,100 students, up from the 400 students who enrolled for the 2001-2002 academic year. The school also serves nearly 500 children whose parents attend classes.

Gipp says there is strong demand for higher education among the growing population of young American Indians. He says that just over 50 percent of the American Indian population in the country is under the age of 24, which accounts for much of the demand.

Gipp says he expects the enrollment cap to be temporary.

“We’re busy trying to build a new apartment house on campus, trying to acquire some housing in the city of Bismarck, so we are trying to address our growth issues,” he says.

UTTC students may be forced to move in to motels and apartments in Bismarck while the college works to expand its housing options.

The tribal college is not the only institution to face a housing shortage this fall. Students at Grambling State University in Louisiana have been living in hotels the first week of classes. Many students who had been living off-campus decided to move to a dorm this year, and a large group of freshmen asked for housing at the last minute, says Leon Sanders, associate vice president for facilities management at Grambling. He suspects high gasoline prices are at least partially responsible for the increased student interest in on-campus living.

The University of Massachusetts is opening a complex of four apartment-style buildings this year. A five-year housing crunch forced hundreds of students to live in nearby hotels while they waited for dorm space to become available.

In 2002, UTTC officials adopted a campus strategic planning process that prompted a growth in both enrollment and the campus infrastructure. The two-year college is also planning on expanding its educational and vocational facilities with an additional 132 acres that have been acquired by the college.

In North Dakota, the overall population has been declining because of the outward migration of young people, officials say. With the exception of several counties containing larger cities, only those counties that contain American Indian reservations have recorded population increases.

The demand for higher education has meant that UTTC has faced a 50 percent to 60 percent increase in enrollment figures. In 2001-2002, there were 409 students enrolled for each term, says Kathy Johnson, the director of enrollment services. That number increased to 1,188 in 2005-2006.

— By Shilpa Banerji

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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