UNF enrolls largest freshman class in university history and it might not be the last

Mallory Pace, Government Reporter

The University of North Florida (UNF) is welcoming its largest freshman class in the university’s 50-year history, with an estimated 3,155 new students settling into the Osprey Nest for the Fall 2022 semester. 

Previously holding first place, the class of 2020 is now ranked the second largest freshman class totaling around 2,600 students, 138 being out-of-state. The following year, UNF saw 2,438 new students enrolled.  

Out of the approximate 3,155 new students for the 2022 fall semester, about 280 students reside out of state, compared to last year’s 168 out-of-state students. Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services, Terry Curran, explained that UNF has seen about an 85% increase in out-of-state students for this year’s freshmen class.  

UNF students walk through Jax Melanin Market Meets Market Days, speaking to local vendors and organizations.
UNF students walk through Jax Melanin Market Meets Market Days, speaking to local vendors and organizations, on Feb. 23. (Justin Nedrow)

“I see it from a very positive perspective. It means that the university is becoming more of a destination, both in-state and out-of-state.” Curran said. “We have a product and an environment here in which people find to be a very positive thing.” 

 While such a high amount of incoming freshmen is unprecedented, in terms of the total number of undergraduate students, Curran said that there are only about 18 more undergraduates enrolled this year than last year.  

In 2021, the number of undergraduate students totaled 14,275 compared to this year’s 14,263 undergraduate students.  

In terms of the overall population, UNF lies between 16 and 20,000. While relatively low compared to other universities, Curran suggests that a lower population is an attractive feature for some students.

 “You have a lot of opportunities, but at the same time, you’re not rushed into small pockets of surface levels in which you really are a number and not an identity or an individual,” he explained.

 A younger institution, furthering its growth and population has been a priority for UNF. Along with a new customer relationship management (CRM) to help customize communications, the university is also focusing on continuing to brand the campus to make sure its messages and offerings hold meaning.  

“It’s nice to have a tagline like ‘Uniquely UNF,’ but what is unique about UNF?” Curran asked. “We need to start capitalizing on some of those messages to make sure that students really see that we have a product here that’s important and matches a lot of students’ needs and expectations.”

Limayem smiling, wearing a blue suit
University of North Florida President Moez Limayem talks to Spinnaker reporters on Friday, Sep. 2, 2022. Limayem foresees UNF reaching 30,000 students rather than its current 17,000. “So, we have a lot of room to cover, and we have to play a little bit of catch-up,” he said, “but we want to do it right.” (Justin Nedrow)

Curran explained that based on Florida’s funding policies, raising the population will raise its revenue and consequently give UNF the opportunity to put its allocations into areas that will positively impact students, including much-needed housing and parking opportunities. 

With the influx of new students this semester, many faced troubles with receiving housing and Curran explained how the university recognizes that the situation hurt both the students and the university and is making efforts to expand housing to allow students that on-campus experience. 

“I think the university is going to explore all types of opportunities, both traditional residential development as well as maybe some public-private partnerships around the university environment, in terms of utilizing our land to provide more on-campus opportunities,” Curran said. 

As UNF celebrates its 50th anniversary, Curran explained that the university is still going through its developing stages, and trial by error is a natural tendency.

 “We’re kind of like a student right now,” he said. “All of a sudden, we’ve gone through puberty, and now going into young adulthood, we need to decide who we’re going to be, and that’s what UNF is all about.” 

Curran also encourages anyone interested in a position at enrollment services to reach out to the department. Positions like freshmen orientation leaders, Swoop Squad, UNF’s Welcome Center and tour guides are available. For students about to graduate and looking for their first job, there are also opportunities for recruiters that offer experience in developing communication skills and meeting new people.  

As UNF continues to grow and expand its wings, it will also further adapt to welcome more additions and even more Ospreys for the years to come. 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].