The number of students at universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents fell slightly this fall amid divergent trends, highlighted by a 4.1 percent decline at Kansas State University, and increases of greater than three percent at Fort Hays State University and Wichita State University, officials said Friday.
The addition of a combined 1,100 students at FHSU, WSU and the University of Kansas was undercut by dramatic slippage of 984 students at Kansas State University, and losses of 195 at Pittsburg State University and 155 at Emporia State University.
Pat Bosco, dean of students at K-State, said the university worked to improve recruitment of out-of-state students, but couldn’t compensate for losses among international students and a shrinking population of Kansans entering college. KSU’s fall total was 22,795.
“The reality is there are fewer students from Kansas attending any college and far fewer international students studying in the United States,” Bosco said. “It’s a perfect demographic storm. Our market share within the state has been steady, but the pool of Kansas high school students pursuing any secondary education continues to shrink.”
20TH DAY FIGURES
Enrollment at Washburn University, in Topeka, increased 1.4 percent to 8,084. The 113 new students were evenly divided between the central campus and the affiliated technical institute.
The 442-student, or three percent, expansion at FHSU led to an all-time high enrollment of 15,100. That’s the 17th consecutive fall enrollment increase.
“It is truly exciting to be part of one of the few growing universities in the Midwest,” said Joey Linn, vice president for student affairs at FHSU.
Enrollment on KU’s main campus in Lawrence was statistically flat at 24,891, but included a 24 percent decline among international students classified as freshmen. Overall, the number of KU freshmen fell below 5,000 for the first time in five years. The increase at KU was attributed to the 1.3 percent expansion at KU Medial Center to an enrollment of 3,556.
Here are the other university totals: ESU, 5,732 students, down 155 or 2.6 percent; PSU, 6,907, down 195 or 2.7 percent; and WSU, 15,081, up 607 or 4.1 percent.
Cumulative enrollment at the six state universities in the board of regents’ system was down 239 students, or 0.25 percent, to 94,062. The tally among the seven universities, 19 community colleges and six technical colleges dipped by 653 students, or 0.36 percent, to 182,010.
“Fall enrollment numbers are showing mixed results across our system,” said Blake Flanders, president of the state board of regents.
He said the state board’s top priority in the 2018 Legislature was to complete restoration of a four percent cut in state aid ordered by Gov. Sam Brownback to close a state revenue shortfall in 2016. That money should be invested to improve student access to education and training, he said.
“Kansas relies on a strong higher education system to build the skilled workforce required by our state’s employers,” Flanders said.
The 19 community colleges in Kansas took in 1,502 fewer students. Eleven community colleges lost enrollment, with the biggest headcount erosion occurring at Johnson County Community College. JCCC, the largest in the system, had 516 or 2.6 percent fewer students. The highest percentage reduction was 15.1 percent, or 159 students, at Independence Community College.
The state’s technical colleges added 975 students. Four of the six had double-digit expansions of enrollment, led by an increase of 675 at Wichita Area Technical College. North Central Kansas Technical College recorded the only reduction, dropping 51 students.