Enrollment increases in Kansas University's graduate school over the past five years and a projected increase this fall reflect a national trend, KU officials said today.
Ruth Hillers, director of the graduate division of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said graduate applications to the college are 200 ahead of last year's pace.
"There is an increase in practically every department," she said. "The college has increased steadily in the last five years."
The college is an indicator for KU because it enrolled more than one-third of the graduate students at KU last fall about 2,500 of the record 6,177. KU graduate enrollment was 5,489 in 1987.
According to the Council of Graduate Schools, graduate school enrollment nationwide has been rising 2 percent annually since 1983. And the U.S. Department of Education expects that trend to continue another five years.
THERE HAS been considerable concern in academic circles about the future supply of people with advanced degrees.
Last year, a report published by the Association of American Universities said competition among government, industry and academia for people with doctoral degrees could weaken the nation's competitive stature with industrialized countries.
The report noted shortages of doctoral recipients in engineering, natural sciences and business.
Tom Mulinazzi, professor of civil engineering and former associate dean of engineering, said he expects graduate enrollment in the KU engineering school to increase this fall.
He said a driving force behind interest in graduate school, particularly engineering, is instability in the U.S. economy.
"It's a reflection of whether students can get jobs coming from undergraduate school. When the job market is tight, we get more students," he said.
SUSAN LEVINE, assistant dean in the KU graduate school, said KU could attract more and better qualified students if financial assistance programs were improved.
"We have so few fellowship stipends that it doesn't effect enrollment, although we have raised some stipends a small amount," she said.
Fellowships are among the best gifts a university can receive because competition for outstanding students has increased, said Del Brinkman, vice chancellor for academic affairs.
The university must "attract, retain and nurture potential future faculty members," he said.
Mulinazzi said the shortage of U.S. graduate degree recipients has been masked by the enrollment of international students.
Levine said the state should grant full tuition waivers for graduate teaching and research assistants.
"When we compare our stipends to other schools, we are sadly lacking. We do lose students to nearby schools" because of inadequate aid, she said.