Washburn counts heads

Washburn counts heads

Washburn student credit hours have increased by 984, a 1.3 percent increase since fall 2008, and that’s good news for Washburn and a common trend with several other Kansas universities, which had been experiencing steady declines in enrollment.

After the fifth week of class, when enrollment numbers were released, the results showed a reverse of the two-year consecutive decline. Based on the information, more than 90 percent of students attend class on campus, and 66 percent are enrolled as full-time students.

Other universities have not seen improvements in enrollment. Kansas University’s enrollment contrasts with Washburn’s in its size. However, there are 30,004 students presently enrolled at KU. Fall 2008 enrollment was 30,102, but the enrollment numbers at KU are deceiving because of the large numbers of students enrolled in the medical school, which saw an increase in enrollment.

Emporia State also experienced a decline in enrollment. Its head count was down by 90 students compared to a year ago.

Overall, though, the news is positive because the six Kansas Board of Regents universities had a combined increase of 1,435 students. Wichita State University is up 211 to 14,823. Fort Hays State University is up 1,201 to 11,308. Pittsburg State University is up 150 to 7,277. Kansas State University is up 61 to 23,581.

In fact, the American Council on Education, an association of 1,700 colleges and universities from around the nation, reports that college enrollment is up nationally-only five states reported a net decrease from their four-year universities. According to the Council’s survey, the idea is that people will go back to school to gain an upper hand in a competitive professional world.

Richard Liedtke, dean of enrollment management, said the tightening job market should cause many students to see a quality education as an advantage. Considering Washburn, Liedtke said he seeks to convey the quality of Washburn to create enrollment growth, improve retention and transferability.

“We are gathering a lot of data and pulling themes out of it,” he said. “We can’t be everything to everybody, but we do the best we possibly can. If we strive to be good at everything, we will be great at nothing.”