Enrollment at Kansas colleges continues to decline in 2022

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Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 8:32 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - While there may be an increase in freshmen enrollment, overall, Kansas public higher education institutions continued to see a decline in enrollment in 2022.

The Kansas Board of Regents says preliminary figures released on Thursday, Sept. 29, indicate a slight decrease in student enrollment at the Sunflower State’s public higher education institutions.

KBOR noted that while public universities and community colleges saw a slight decrease, technical colleges saw a slight increase in enrollment.

Overall, the Board indicated that the system saw a 1% decline in enrollment as of the 20th day of classes compared to 2021.

“The preliminary fall enrollment numbers show a continued trend of decreasing enrollment for many Kansas colleges and universities,” said KBOR Chair Jon Rolph. “Our system is taking decisive action to reverse declining enrollments, better serve students and ensure that our state has the workforce needed to grow the Kansas economy. Initiatives such as our general education package and implementation of student success initiatives will help our system serve and graduate more students.”

Across the state’s six universities, the Board said there was a decrease of 1,333 students - -1.5%. It said community colleges saw a decrease of 630 students - -1% - and tech colleges saw an increase of 569 students - 6%.

However, the University of Kansas said it welcomed its latest freshman class in 14 years and the most academically talented and diverse class in its history. It said it welcomed a total of 4,457 new freshmen - the most since 2008 and the second largest in school history - with an average GPA of 3.66. It said minority students account for 28.5% of the class.

Beyond freshmen, KU said enrollment fell slightly by 0.2% - 47 students - to a total of 27,638.

“We are pleased to see this increase in first-time freshmen and to have held steady on overall enrollment this year,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “These enrollment numbers demonstrate that talented students from across the state and nation see the benefit of attending a leading public research university like KU to prepare for their lives and careers. Additionally, these enrollment numbers speak volumes of the work our faculty and staff do to recruit and retain talented students, especially during the uncertainties of the pandemic in recent years.”

Leaders in Lawrence attributed the jump in Jayhawks to the school’s academic reputation, targeted recruitment strategies, a nationwide network of donors and alumni, and the profile of KU athletics.

“Everything we do at KU — from education to service to research, to engagement with alumni and donors, to competing in athletics — ultimately contributes to our ability to recruit new students to campus,” Girod said. “Every member of our university community deserves thanks and credit for our enrollment success.”

Girod also indicated that KU must continue to work hard to overcome challenges facing higher education.

“While we are pleased with this year’s freshman class, we must continue our efforts to recruit and retain top students and create a university they want to attend,” he said. “The reality is, college enrollment continues to decline across the nation, and we continue to face flat population trends here in the Midwest. These challenges haven’t gone away, which is why we must remain steadfast in our efforts to improve KU through our strategic planning initiative and Higher Learning Commission accreditation process.”

Thursday’s data also found record-setting graduation rates at KU - specifically in its 4-year, 5-year, and 6-year graduation rates, all of which are at record highs.

“Getting students to KU is important, but equally important is ensuring they earn their degree in a timely fashion,” Girod said. “While we celebrate this year’s record-setting graduation rates, we will maintain our focus on improving the student experience through enhancements to advising, health care and other areas of importance to students.”

Meanwhile, Kansas State University said new freshmen enrollment jumped for the Wildcats by 2.1%.

“The growth in our new student enrollment is significant,” said Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management. “This is one of our highest priorities at the university and is a sign that our strategic enrollment management efforts have us headed in the right direction.”

K-State noted that it also saw an increase in diversity with a 14% increase in African American students and a 6% increase in Hispanic students.

“This year’s freshman class is also academically strong, with an average GPA of 3.66, an average ACT score of 25.5 and an average SAT score of 1230, marking a 42-point increase,” said Chuck Taber, K-State provost. “The first-time freshman retention rate also was sustained at 86.1%.”

Goos indicated that students and families recognize the value of a K-State degree.

“We have worked hard at connecting prospective students to the university,” Goos said. “The university provides a unique student-centered educational experience through active learning, meaningful research, civic engagement and leadership development that prepare graduates to contribute to society and improve their career prospects. We are pleased to see students from all over the world have chosen K-State to achieve their academic goals.”

To see enrollment rates and other data for other Kansas colleges and universities, click HERE.