K-State, KU see enrollment decline due to COVID-19

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 2:32 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Board of Regents 2020 fall semester enrollment shows a decrease in full-time enrollment in Kansas public higher education institutions and it says this may be due to COVID-19.

According to the Kansas Board of Regents, preliminary census figures show a decrease in full-time student enrollment in Kansas public higher education institutions. It said the total student headcount also decreased in all sectors.

“COVID has introduced a unique set of hurdles for higher education that has negatively impacted fall enrollment as expected,” said KBOR President and CEO Blake Flanders. “However, the pandemic has also converged with longer-term challenges facing enrollment, including a steady decline in the college-going rate of Kansas high school graduates. The Board is focused on advocating for the institutions as they weather the impact of coronavirus and on addressing longer-term issues to ensure that Kansans can build rewarding careers and Kansas businesses have access to the skilled workforce they need.”

KBOR said the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges for recruiting prospective students, while some even faced particular difficulties in enrolling international students for the fall semester. Additionally, it said the delayed start for many high schools in the state likely contributed to a decrease in the number of high school students enrolled in concurrent courses.

According to the report, across the six state universities, there was a decrease in 2,677 full-time students (-3.6%). It showed community colleges experienced a decline of 4,737 full-time students (-11.7%), while technical colleges saw a drop of 518 full-time students (-8.7%).

KBOR said it will monitor the impact that the reductions will have on the higher education institutions.

According to KBOR, full-time equivalency is calculated by dividing the total number of undergraduate credit hours taken in a semester by 15 and graduate credit hours by 12.

The report shows the following data Kansas higher education institutions:

Institution2019 Enrollment2020 Enrollment1 Year Change5 Year Change
Emporia State University5,8775,828-0.8%-4.4%
Kansas State University15,90815,033-5.5%+5.8%
University of Kansas24,62923,964-2.7%-3.0%
Wichita State University16,05815,550-3.2%+7.3%
Washburn University6,2855,880-6.4%-11.1%
Washburn University Institute of Technology1,4801,107-25.2%-16.8%
Johnson County Community College18,31113,899-24.1%-27.3%
Flint Hills Technical College1,5141,222-19.3%+29.9%
Manhattan Area Technical College906797-12.0%-8.4%
Salina Area Technical College791697-11.9%+33.5%
Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology4,9204,607-6.4%+38.8%

Kansas State University said while its enrollment may have dropped, the 2020 Fall Semester is also bringing its highest retention and graduation rates.

“Our 4% drop is much lower than expected and we know the next year will bring strong opportunities for growth when our new Missouri Tuition Match Program, providing in-state tuition to qualified Missouri students, takes effect in fall 2021,” said Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management at Kansas State University. “Our new scholarship plans also are making a difference and helping more students, with more than $46 million awarded to K-State students this academic year.”

The University of Kansas said it is seeing its second-highest one-year retention rate in history while its two-year retention rate for 2018 freshman is at an all-time high.

“Though we are pleased with this year’s enrollment numbers, KU still faces an unprecedented revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year that will necessitate difficult cost-savings measures in the months ahead,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “Moreover, this year’s decline in international students and first-time freshmen – and projected challenges in international recruitment for the foreseeable future – will continue to present severe revenue challenges for years to come.”

To see other Kansas public higher education retention rates or for more information on the report, click here.

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