Archive for Sunday, October 30, 2011

Enrollment outreach

Kansas University should take note of the creative steps taken by other state universities to boost their enrollment numbers.

October 30, 2011


As Kansas University looks at ways to increase its enrollment, it might look at some of the creative approaches being taken by other universities in the state.

While KU recorded an enrollment decline of 3.1 percent on its Lawrence campus this fall, Kansas State University reported a 1.2 percent increase. The biggest increase among the six Kansas Board of Regents universities was 7.7 at Fort Hays State University.

How did they do it? By getting creative — in ways that benefit not only their bottom line but also the state.

This fall, Fort Hays reported the largest enrollment of its 109-year history, an increase from last fall of 919 students. The total enrollment for the school is 12,802, but only about a third of those students actually attend classes on the Fort Hays campus. A little less than a third are students at partner universities in China, a program Fort Hays started about a decade ago. Students in China take classes online or from Fort Hays faculty who travel to China on temporary teaching assignments. A program that started with 40 Chinese students in the fall of 2000 now enrolls about 3,600 students.

More than a third of the Fort Hays’ headcount comes from its Virtual College, which enrolled 4,504 students this fall, compared with 4,009 students last fall, an increase of 12.3 percent. According to a news release from the school, the Virtual College “makes a college education accessible to students who might not be able to relocate to a university community.” Courses are delivered through various formats including interactive TV, video, CD-ROM and the Internet.

Some observers may wonder how providing classes to 3,600 students in China benefits Kansas, but it has been part of a winning strategy for Fort Hays. At the same time enrollment is rising in China, it also is rising on the Hays campus and in its Virtual College program.

K-State also is reaching out across the state in ways that are likely to add to the modest enrollment increase it recorded this year. On Wednesday, K-State signed an agreement that will allow students to receive associate degrees from Garden City Community College and then use distance learning tools to earn bachelor’s degrees from Kansas State. Degree programs will be available in family studies and human services, interdisciplinary social science, fire science, business and avionics.

According to news reports, K-State plans to sign similar agreements with Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Allen County Community College in Iola and Barton County Community College in Great Bend. With modern communications technology, geography isn’t much of a factor in these relationships. Nonetheless, it’s notable that, while El Dorado and Great Bend are closer to K-State than KU, Iola is only about 80 miles from Lawrence and 160 miles from Manhattan.

Such K-State partnerships are a real asset to the state because they extend the reach of higher education and contribute to the “seamless” higher education system envisioned by state legislators when they brought community colleges and vocational-technical schools under the Kansas Board of Regents’ umbrella.

KU is filled with wonderful tradition, but the school shouldn’t let that tradition get in the way of being creative about meeting students’ higher education needs. There certainly have been some efforts in that direction, such as classes offered online or at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park, but the trends at schools like Fort Hays and K-State suggest that KU might benefit from getting more creative in building its outreach and its enrollment.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Fort Hays has an excellent Graphic Design program which is highly respected.

The real problem is job placement after graduation. Elected officials have killed job placement with Reaganomics and the New World Order(Hitlerism),NAFTA,CAFTA and tax codes favoring outsourcing USA jobs. With Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney running home loan scams on the nation which effectively killed the USA as the job sector capitol of the world there is not much reason for to accomplish four year degrees. No one has gone to jail for these mammoth financial frauds yet millions upon millions upon millions have become unemployed as a result no matter what color the collar.

There are damn few jobs to support 4 year degrees. Many many many graduates never follow their new areas of expertise because uninformed politicians decided the USA economy should be supported with service jobs, the "shop till you drop" industry and supporting the Chinese government. These are 35 years of dumb decisions.

When it comes to economics most of our elected officials don't know beans. They simply got stupid or maybe never understood why americans need to be employed with good wages. In reality they caved to their special interest money who in turn writes the scripts. Brownback is surely a shining example.

Why go to a four year college at this point in history? Mostly for the education in order to hopefully prevent further dumbing down of America. If one can afford a student career by all means stay in college. For the most part college is not necessarily a road to employment.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Johnson County Community College is the way to go for many. It is here where a well educated teaching staff can ready the nation for employment.

JCCC offers up several areas for skilled employment = can lead to self employment. Which is advisable considering too many employers have zero plans for long term employment.... those days are long gone again thanks to elected officials.

For example JCCC is set up to train and educate in the areas of clean energy which likely offer up a very decent wage.

Vocation Technical education either backed with a certificate and Associates Degree is a smart way to go. In fact this avenue would also be an intelligent way to back up a four degree.... if a person wants/needs employment.

Face it folks in the current environment four year college programs are over rated when it comes to employment. Learning is good! A college campus is a great place to hang out and learn if you realize that a job may not be the end result which can prevent serious depression. Let's be real.

Art institutes are fun places to learn without the full blown pressures of a 4 year college.

SnakeFist 6 years, 6 months ago

Merrill, I'm sympathetic to your positions on many things, but JCCC is not the school it once was. Well over 50% of classes are taught by adjuncts who haven't had a raise in at least 5 years while their class sizes have increased by 20% over the same period. These adjuncts are the equivalent of assembly line workers with little to work for and every reason to minimize their workload in any way possible. Calaway has all but destroyed the quality of a JCCC education.

smarty_pants 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm an adjunct at JCCC and at another community college. In the two years I've been at JCCC, I've gotten two raises. Raises are based on numbers of semesters taught. Also JCCC pays very well and provides great support for its adjuncts. At the other smaller community college, I haven't gotten a raise in three years.

SnakeFist 6 years, 6 months ago

Its not just about getting more students in the door, its about how they're treated once they're here. 200 to 300+ students per class and classes that fill minutes after enrollment starts do not make for a good experience. KU seems to only care about prospective students and alumni - I received a plea to donate the week after I graduated, but they didn't give a darn about me during the four years I was a student.

cowboy 6 years, 6 months ago

Putting in double digit increases annually on tuiton and housing might have had an impact , ya think. When my daughter went thru some 10 or so years ago you could pretty much pay the costs out of pocket. You could make three pymts a semester and total for housing and tuition was under 3 grand. What is it now ? about 6 grand.

Find ways to get the cattle call classes out of the way online.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 6 months ago

While I agree that KU should explore some of the ideas presented here, I do not think that KU should aspire to be Fort Hays State University or even Kansas State University.

KU is a research university in the American Association of Universities (for now). KU should instead look to what peers in the AAU are doing to increase and maintain enrollment.

I doubt if Berkeley, Michigan, or North Carolina and doing the things that Fort Hays State and K State are doing (online degree programs, satellite degrees at community colleges). One thing AAU schools are doing is starting campuses in China, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc.

KU stands alone as an AAU research university in Kansas. It should look to its peers in the AAU, and not at K State or Fort Hays State.

Steve Bunch 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, most of the AAU schools offer some online degrees, and in North Carolina the equivalent of our Board of Regents coordinates online degree completion between community colleges and state universities, including UNC. Regarding the opening of foreign campuses, I don't know about China and Saudi Arabia, but the American higher ed bubble has burst in Dubai and the other emirates. You're right--initially some high profile schools set up shop there, but now they're bailing.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 6 months ago

For-profit educational buinesses such as University of Phoenix have the online degree programs down. If that is what you want, they have it. It is silly for a research university to compete in this arena, although Fort Hays should.

By doing these things like online degrees and satellite programs, K State undermines its own reputation and degree quality in the national eye. It is a good way to make money, though.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

"Calaway has all but destroyed the quality of a JCCC education."

If that's true = bummer!

squawkhawk 6 years, 6 months ago

I guess KU doesn't look so superior right now.

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