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Enrollment up at UW-L, down at Western and Viterbo

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Enrollment at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is up, but slightly down for Viterbo University and Western Technical College, according to numbers released this week by the local institutions.

UW-L broke records with the influx of 1,990 freshmen this fall. The university's total enrollment for the semester is 10,427, 200 more than fall of 2012.

"We're at the biggest enrollment ever in the history of the university right now," UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow said.

Gow noted that the school saw an increase in graduate students over last year, from 786 to 797, but is still far short of the 955 graduate students who attended the college in the fall of 2011. The drop off is the result of a change in Wisconsin's payment policies for K-12 teachers, Gow said.

UW-L experienced declining interest in graduate-level degrees when the state stopped giving educators an automatic salary increase if they earned a master's degree.

"That's a big change for us," Gow said.

Western's total student headcount dropped from 7,880 to 7,619 between last fall and this fall. The number of full-time degree students at Western also dipped, sliding from 1,595 to 1,480.

Falling enrollment at the technical college comes with an overhaul to the school's schedule. Western switched to a trimester-based schedule this fall, which should cause enrollment to "spread out," Western spokeswoman Julie Lemon said.

However, the college's La Crosse campus will add learning space in the next few years thanks to an $80 million referendum passed in November by voters. The college plans to add 1,000 students by 2020.

Viterbo's student body dipped from 2,788 to 2,729, but officials are pleased with the university's ability to keep students coming back.

However, the university did experience a 2 percent increase in new freshmen and transfer students. The university also has more full-time undergraduates, their ranks rising from 1,492 last fall to 1,501 this year.

Retention is 81 percent for freshman who joined the university in 2012 and returned to Viterbo last month, according to a recent report from university President Rick Artman. That's up from last fall's retention rate of 76 percent.

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