Enrollment Drops At WSU, Regents Schools

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Wichita State University enrollment is down 2.3 percent to 14,550 students, according to newly released numbers from the Kansas Board of Regents. But university leaders say that decrease was expected given the groundwork they're laying for the future.

The drop in students was almost entirely among "guest" students.

When the university last year began taking a closer look at its enrollment numbers, how it was spending money, and the plans for the future, they decided to overhaul the guest student program, Wichita State University President John Bardo said.

The university had about 500 to 700 guest students, mostly high school students who were taking college courses. Their tuition and fees were paid for by the university. But the university noticed that about 70 percent of those students were not pursuing a full-time education at Wichita State after serving as guests. So, the university decided to stop paying for those guest students. Many of them decided not to return this year, Bardo said.

While total enrollment might be down slightly, the university says it's actually increased the number of regular, full-time students. In fact, the total number of student credit hours is at its highest level in Wichita State history, Bardo said.

"Credit hours, not head count, determine funding," Bardo said.

Even so, many people in Wichita are surprised enrollment didn't get a bigger boost from the mens basketball team's run to the Final Four.

"It will have an impact but just not in the way a lot of people expect it to be an immediate, 'oh my gosh, boost in numbers.' It just doesn't work that way," Bardo said.

The effect of the recognition for the athletics program is something the university hopes to utilize in its efforts to achieve a big goal.

"For us to do right by the people of Wichita, we have to be a larger university than we are," Bardo said. "We have to be more aggressive in our research and our technology research as well."

Bardo says his vision is to bring enrollment to about 22,000, an increase of almost 8,000 students. The university has hired a recruiting firm to help pull students from all regions of the country.

"By simply just increasing the sheer volume of students, you increase the likelihood of those people staying in Wichita and being an ongoing part of the community," Bardo said.

In addition, the university says it's laying the groundwork to provide additional services for adult students and to begin a distance learning education program.

"We are really going after all segments of the market in a very aggressive program," Bardo said.

Most students say the talk of expansion is exciting to them.

"With (the university) expanding it will be more on the map and more people will know about it," freshman Noah Montgomery said. "I think it's a great move for the university."

Although some students do worry if the current infrastructure can handle that much of an increase in student population.

"Parking is difficult as it is now," student Wesley Alexis said. "There would have to be a major change to student life."

But Bardo says research has shown the university's current physical infrastructure can handle 22,000 students. He says the only exceptions are laboratory space, dormitory space, and "hang out" space.

"There are going to be some things we need to change," Bardo said. "I can see changes every day. I can see the movement every day and it makes it fun to be in this job because so many people are working so hard at getting this right and I think we will get it right."

Getting it right, he says, will hopefully pay off big dividends for the university, but more importantly, for the community.

"We are trying to position ourselves to really do what Wichita State has always done which is to really serve the needs of this region but to do so in a more modern context of a more globalized economy," Bardo said.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Preliminary fall enrollment figures released today by the Kansas Board of Regents show a system-wide decrease of 1.33% or 2,504 students across the state’s 32 public universities, community colleges and technical colleges.

Enrollment increased at the state’s technical colleges, where an additional 472 students are enrolled this fall compared to the preliminary census day count in 2012. Enrollment was nearly flat at the seven public universities (-123 students), and was down across the state’s 19 community colleges (-3,095 students).

Regents schools:

Wichita State - 2.34%
University of Kansas -.55%
Kansas State University +.83%
Emporia State University +2.83%
Fort Hays State +.98%
Pittsburg State + 1.52
Washburn +.14%

Community Colleges:

Butler County -5.81%
Barton County +11.30%
Colby CC -3.18%
Cowley Co CC -8.66%
Dodge City CC -4.29%
Garden City CC -3.01%
Hutchinson CC -.50%
Pratt CC + .92%
Seward Co Cc -5.59%

Technical Colleges:

Wichita Area Technical College +9.64%
Salina Area Technical College +4.64%
Northwest KS Technical College +11.59%

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