UT wants to boost enrollment by 8,000 students

UT Campus, Knoxville (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee wants to hand out about eight thousand more college degrees in Knoxville over the next few years.

But is there enough room on campus to do it?

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford spoke with faculty and students about the space needed to increase enrollment.

"I don't think we have enough space. Classrooms are pretty crowded and the dorm situations are very overcrowded," says UT Sophomore Sasha Anderson.

UT sophomore Sasha Anderson says having more than 27,000 students on campus right now is too much as it is.

"I think it would add a lot of stress to the student population because I just don't think we can handle any more students," she says.

Sophomore Joshua Ross says he doesn't get the one-on-one interaction with professors that he needs. "As it is, we already got classes that are way too huge for the student population and no one really learns that much."

"We can't increase given existing infrastructure now, and we're not interested in that. In other words, we're not going to just add more students to reach some sort of number," Vice Chancellor of Communications Tom Milligan says increasing enrollment by 8,000 will not happen over night, but it needs to be done in order to compete with other states. "We think there's a case to be made that a strong University of Tennessee research campus, really can drive the economic vitality of the state."

"We're too small. We have too few faculty. We have too few staff, and frankly, we're contributing too few students to make this economy buzz the way it should," says UT Chancellor Dr. Loren Crabtree.

Besides housing and classroom space, many students say they're worried about the 8,000 students adding on to the already painful parking situation.

"A lot of my friends drive and they're always saying that they're late to classes and they can never find spots, so I think they definitely have to increase the parking," says one UT student.

"I don't know a university in the country that doesn't have trouble with parking," says Milligan.

UT says in time they would add more parking space, classrooms, residence halls, and faculty to accommodate a much bigger student population, but in the meantime.

"The state needs to step up, to be honest with you, and provide the kind of funding that's needed for us," says Dr. Crabtree.

Chancellor Loren Crabtree says he's not sure exactly how much money the increased enrollment would end up costing the university, but they'll soon present their case to the state, and address the space issues once the funding is approved.