Archive for Friday, March 29, 2013

KU spring enrollment dips; officials hope for turnaround in autumn

March 29, 2013


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Kansas University’s total spring enrollment fell by about 2.7 percent this year from the year before — mirroring almost exactly the year-to-year drop-off that took place in the fall semester.

KU’s total enrollment, including the KU Medical Center and the Edwards Campus in Overland Park, fell to 26,258 this spring. In spring 2012, that number was 26,992.

Fall enrollment fell to 27,939 this academic year, also a drop of 2.7 percent.

That pattern is fairly typical, said Matt Melvin, KU’s vice provost for enrollment management. Few KU students enroll for the first time in the spring semester each year, so the spring numbers usually amount to a slight decrease from the fall, because of December graduates and dropouts.

Because of that, spring enrollment is a less important metric to administrators, Melvin said.

“Our emphasis is largely on our fall classes,” Melvin said.

KU’s enrollment for spring 2013 breaks down to 23,059 at the Lawrence and Edwards campuses, a 3.2 percent decline, and 3,199 at the Medical Center, an increase of just less than 1 percent. Those percentages, too, are similar to the year-over-year changes in the fall.

In the fall, KU’s enrollment fell for the fourth straight year, though the freshman class grew for the first time since 2008. Officials said that boded well for an enrollment turnaround in the future.

Melvin said this week he’s “cautiously optimistic” about KU’s fall 2013 enrollment as he tracks admissions and housing application numbers.

KU Provost Jeff Vitter said last fall his hopes were for the university’s total enrollment to remain about even in fall 2013 and begin to increase in fall 2014 as bigger incoming freshman classes replace the smaller groups that arrived in 2009-2011. In about four years, he said, he hopes for the total number to reach about 30,000, which is roughly the height it reached in 2008.

KU leaders have said they’ve increased their focus on recruitment, including the introduction of a new slate of four-year renewable scholarships for incoming freshmen.

As they did in the fall, the enrollments at Kansas State University and Fort Hays State University grew by the most among the state’s public universities. K-State’s spring enrollment rose by about 2.9 percent from the year before, to 22,714, and Fort Hays State’s increased by about 6.6 percent to 11,432.

All figures are according to data collected by the Kansas Board of Regents. The numbers remain preliminary, meaning they could still be adjusted.


Steve Bunch 5 years ago

It would be interesting to know how KSU's and FHSU's off-campus online enrollments compare with KU's. I'm guessing almost all of KU's online enrollments are students already enrolled on campus.

flloyd 5 years ago

Our kids both decided to go to KSU. It's going to tough for us to write those tuition checks next Fall but we kind of don't blame them.

George_Braziller 5 years ago

It may have something to do with the huge jumps in tuition that keep happening on a regular basis and students are enrolling someplace else that's less expensive. I graduated from KU but there's no way I'd be able to afford it now.

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

But the quality arguably is not higher. For example, see the dumbing down of the LAS degree (i.e., no Western Civ requirement) and the commoditizing inherent in the new "core" curriculum.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

So, the quality is going to have to come from people with money enough to pay tuition? You really think their kids are more deserving than poor kids? What an arrogant attitude, not to mention you are wrong.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

KSU and Fort Hays State are obviously doing something right that KU is not.

fu7il3 5 years ago

I wonder how much it has to do with online programs and classes. FHSU has a lot of them. Does KU have any?

fiddleback 5 years ago

How is this even really news?

Doesn't fall enrollment pretty much predict what spring enrollment will be? The headline suggests a dip from the fall semester, when what you're really saying is that enrollment was flat across the academic year...well yeah, duh.

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

The news, although it's not news to some of us, is that KU is standing pat on an obsolete model of public higher education. KU is now at least a decade behind the curve, probably more.

SnakeFist 5 years ago

Johnson County Community College's enrollment has also been dropping and (1) it offers a lot of online classes and (2) its still relatively inexpensive - so I don't think those factors tell the whole story of KU's declining enrollment. For example, Fort Hays State may be growing simply because Western Kansas students are staying closer to home.

Are KU's tougher admission standards in effect yet? If so, I suspect that fewer students being admitted is strongly correlated with fewer students enrolling.

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

JCCC is undergraduate education. That's a shrinking market. FHSU's enrollments are heavily bolstered by Chinese students who study online and offshore. In fact, they help subsidize the western Kansas students who study on campus.

chootspa 5 years ago

That's a shrinking market? How so?

JCCC is cheaper. JCCC offers classes that high school kids can take for free under a new state program for vo-tech. JCCC offers full online degrees. There are more students who live near JCCC than near Manhattan. It pretty much blows away most of the theories.

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

The traditional 18-22 year old undergraduate market is shrinking. Check the census figures. And JCCC will do just fine because, as you point out, it complements its associate degree programs with other kinds of training for a broader, nontraditional audience.

merickson 5 years ago

I'll jump in here and answer your question really quick: No, KU's new admission standards are not in effect. They don't come until 2016:


Matt Erickson

KU reporter

Scott Morgan 5 years ago

Hi, I am the 1000 lb gorilla in the room. Call me opinion gorilla, for the following is my opinion only. Need to state, KU has a gorgeous campus here in Lawrence.

Over the years I've noticed a gradual yet observable growth of major, but more importantly petty crimes. Should clarify, petty crimes as not the normal student type dumb stuff. Habitual lazy part time criminal type stuff. Steal enough to hang one on crime. Bumbling 18 to 25 years old future inmate activity. Areas as in South of Dillon's store on 23rd for instance has changed from student housing to more family or even Section 8 low income clientele.

Took a long time away weekend trip to Manhattan recently. Boy Howdy is this area booming, including a great deal of campus construction. Aggieville looked like a place for students, not a mix as in Mass. Street.

For some reason I remember a key decision maker while taking my oldest daughter on campus visits 12 years ago. While the family was oooing and ahhing I was looking for more. I was thinking on the lines of would it be safe to walk here, leave a window open, more importantly who is just hanging around and not a student. How healthy is the community.

If picking a college again, between the two biggies today, K-State would be the choice in a landslide.

Clearly4Kansas 5 years ago

Pay no attention to KSU. Nothing to see here folks, just move along.

Centerville 5 years ago

Grab your wallets. If enrollment is down, taxpayers will be implored to give KU even more money, or else they'll be accused of not liking education. And note: The KU Chancellor is the highest paid government emplyee in Kansas.

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