Overall enrollment at public universities in Kansas increased slightly
Enrollment fell at four of the state’s seven public universities this spring, but rose at Kansas State University, Emporia State and Fort Hays State. The total student head count at K-State, which is experiencing record-high enrollment this academic year, was 23,180 this spring, up from 22,518 last spring.
At Emporia State, the tally rose from 5,553 to 5,701, and at Fort Hays it climbed from 10,723 to 11,432. The other three regents universities and Washburn University all saw enrollment dip.
At the University of Kansas, the spring count slid from 26,992 last year to 26,258. At Washburn it fell from 6,801 to 6,648. At Wichita State it dropped from 15,054 to 14,694 and at Pittsburg State from 6,815 to 6,761. All in all, enrollment at the public universities rose slightly, with a statewide increase of about 200 students.
Washburn President Jerry Farley said a few factors had contributed to a slight slip in enrollment. For example, last year was a record-high enrollment year for the university, he said.
“We’re proud of that,” he said. “Folks did a really good job.”
He said the number of graduating high school students had decreased and that as the recession had stabilized, more people had probably returned to work.
“When people are out of work, they take the opportunity to finish degrees, pick up another credential,” he said.
The slide in enrollment at KU in recent years and the increase at K-State mean the gap in student population between the two has narrowed. Enrollment at KU fell from 29,462 in fall 2010 to 27,939 this past fall, while K-State enrollment rose 23,588 in fall 2010 to 24,378 this past fall.
The increase this spring at Fort Hays was more than 6 percent, though the university said its tallies released this month didn’t include full enrollment in the university’s China program, where final reporting was delayed by the Chinese New Year holiday. The university has robust off-campus programs, including partnerships with Chinese universities and a virtual college program. More students are enrolled in the virtual program than are on campus this year — 5,164 versus 4,417 students.
For the fall semester, three public universities saw growth in enrollment this academic year. The head counts rose 2 percent at K-State, where enrollment hit an all-time record high, less than 1 percent at Pittsburg State and about 4 percent at Fort Hays.
At Washburn and Wichita State, fall enrollment declined a little more than 1 percent. At KU it fell a little less than 3 percent.