Enrollment at four of the state’s six universities was flat or decreased for the fall 2016 semester, according to data released by the Kansas Board of Regents.
But enrollment at the state’s technical colleges is up nearly 6 percent from last year.
Wichita Area Technical College saw record enrollment with 3,592 students, according to president Sheree Utash.
Over the past four years, WATC saw a decline in its nontraditional adult enrollment, Utash said.
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But she gives partial credit to the college’s new Wichita Promise scholarship program for enrollment in that area picking back up.
“A lot of students are taking a different pathway,” Utash said. “One of the reasons for that is cost. As consumers, they’re looking at how to reduce student loan debt and get an education faster so they can go into the workplace and get a career.”
Meanwhile, tuition at universities across the state has continued to increase year after year.
Utash also said WATC has streamlined its enrollment process and continues to market its technical programs.
Emporia State, Kansas State, Pittsburg State and Wichita State all saw losses, while the University of Kansas and Fort Hays State saw gains.
In all, 94,301 students are enrolled at the six universities, which is 21 students more than last year.
Fort Hays State edged out Wichita State this fall as the third-largest university in Kansas with 14,658 students. However, that number includes the Fort Hays’ Virtual College, with 6,694 students. Its on-campus enrollment is 4,712.
Overall, enrollment at Wichita State for fall 2016 was about the same as last year –14,474 students, a decrease of 21 students compared to fall 2015.
“Overall our enrollment is flat from last fall,” said Richard Muma, senior associate vice president for academic affairs and strategic enrollment management.
“We’ve made lots of gains in terms of our freshmen class and in terms of under-represented minority students. ... We’ve been intentional over the last several years to encourage more students from under-represented communities and first-generation students, and I think we’re starting to see that pay off.”
Just over 16.1 percent of WSU students are minorities. That’s up from 15.3 percent last year – a steady climb from 8.4 percent in 1990.
This semester has the largest class of new freshmen (1,476) in Wichita State history, including the largest number of new full-time freshmen (1,420), according to WSU.
Muma said the university still needs to work on its retention with sophomores, juniors and seniors. He said they leave for a variety of personal reasons, because of costs or to return to the workforce before completing their degree.
To help, Muma said, WSU is working on centralizing its student advising to make it easier to navigate and to study student performance to assist them with things like tutoring.
Kansas university enrollment fall 2016
Number of Students
Difference from fall 2015
Fort Hays State
University of Kansas- total
University of Kansas
KU Medical Center
Data: Kansas Regents