NEW ORLEANS — Enrollment is down again this year at the University of New Orleans, but the university’s president calls the latest decrease of less than 1 percent a reason for optimism.

The university’s fall 2017 total enrollment is 7,976, down from 8,037 last fall. It’s the eighth straight year of declining enrollment.

But President John Nicklow says in a Tuesday news release the latest figures show progress in reversing the history of declines.

Nicklow took over last year as president of UNO, which reached enrollment of more than 17,000 prior to Hurricane Katrina striking in 2005.

Among Nicklow’s reasons for optimism: A 16 percent increase in freshman applications this year and the enrollment of 949 freshmen who have an average ACT score of 23 and high school grade point average of 3.1.

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