Enrollment for fall 2020 at Wichita State University and WSU Tech is down, following record years of enrollment growth. Despite the decline, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of thousands of local jobs, the percentage drop in full-time equivalency (FTE) at the institutions is better than the average decline for Kansas Board of Regents institutions, which is 3.6% for state universities and 8.7% for technical colleges.
Wichita State saw 15,500 students enroll for classes this fall with an FTE of 11,042,
a decrease of 3.1% from last year. Fall 2020 enrollment, however, is still the third
best for Wichita State in the past 30 years.
Meanwhile, WSU Tech saw 4,607 students enroll in classes this fall with an FTE of 2,780, a 4.2% decrease from last year. Despite the decline, fall 2020 still remains the second largest fall enrollment in college history.
With the later start date for public schools this year, high school students were unable to enroll in college credit courses at Wichita State before the census date. Wichita State will continue to admit and enroll these students for concurrent credit.
WSU Tech — an affiliate of Wichita State, after experiencing a delay in high school enrollment — continues to enroll students in reduced-rate general education courses, dual-credit classes and free technical education classes. Similarly, WSU Tech attributes this interruption to the later start date for high schools this year, as well as many high schools moving to an online format.
“Given all the complications with COVID-19, we continue to see strong cohorts of students in certain segments of our student population, including out-of-state students from along the I-35 corridor and first-time-in-college students,” said Dr. Rick Muma, acting president and provost of Wichita State. “Wichita State continues to be a powerful presence in our community, bringing economic diversification, innovation and affordable educational opportunities to Shocker Nation.”
“Having flat enrollment or being slightly down while faced with the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought is really good news,” said Dr. Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech. “We owe much of our enrollment success to our student services team who pivoted quickly in the spring to recruit in an online environment with innovation and technology to connect individually with our returning and incoming students. We can also contribute the success to a strong application year, the new First15 scholarship initiative for recent high school graduates and the federal dollars that are providing financial assistance to many of the unemployed individuals in our community. These fall enrollment numbers reflect great work in a variety of areas, including our faculty, who along with concentrated efforts on many fronts worked tirelessly to increase enrollment and retention during these unprecedented times.”
WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY SUCCESS STORIES
While Wichita State witnessed a 3.8% decrease in degree-bound undergraduates, graduate enrollment increased by 303 students for a 10.7% increase, reversing a declining trend during the past five years. At 3,144 graduate students, this is the highest graduate enrollment in 20 years.
Total student course credit hours are 160,198 for fall 2020, with an increase of 7.6%
in graduate credit hours and a decrease of 4.1% in undergraduate credit hours.
- 12.7% growth in undergraduate degree-seeking students from the I-35 corridor.
- 7.4% increase in the number of underrepresented minorities in master’s programs.
- Maintained high full-time enrollment among both undergraduates and graduates at 79.6% and 48.3% respectively.
- Enrolled the third largest first-time in college (FTIC) cohort in history at 1,515.
- Offered micro-credential badges to 783 students abroad with an interest in WSU an increase of 36% from last year.
Wichita State students have also greatly benefited from new programming, expanding career path opportunities:
- The School of Digital Arts in the College of Fine Arts — which offers degrees and certificates in animation, audio production, collaborative design, filmmaking and game design — saw an increase in enrollment of 24%.
- The School of Social Work in the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences saw an increase of 14.3% in its graduate and undergraduate enrollments.
- The College of Applied Studies, which continues its five-year trend of strong growth, had a 12.6% increase in student headcount over last year. This growth comes from the Teacher Apprentice Program and Special Education program.
- The Master in Human Resource Management, offered in the W. Frank Barton School of Business, now has 59 students enrolled, a 321% increase over last year when the program first launched.
- The Army ROTC program, which began last year, increased its cadets by 36% this fall.
WSU TECH SUCCESS STORIES
Despite seeing a decline, 2020 is WSU Tech’s second largest fall semester enrollment in the history of the college, trailing only fall 2019. This is also the first fall semester the College has seen year-over-year enrollment decline in five years.
- The Aviation Maintenance Technology program, also known as Airframe and Powerplant, saw a large enrollment increase. Up 11.9% in headcount and up 12.4% in credit hours compared to the fall 2019 semester. WSU Tech attributes this enrollment growth due to the increase in laid-off aviation workers looking to upskill and utilize paid tuition provided by funds at the Kansas Workforce Center.
- Health care is another area that WSU Tech saw enrollment growth in with a 9.8% increase in credit hours. With the largest growth being in the Veterinary Nursing, Surgical Technology and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
- WSU Tech saw success with the launch of their new First15 Scholarship which promised paid tuition and fees for up to 15 credit hours of general education classes. The scholarship was only available to 2020 high school graduates. 123 students applied and enrolled as a result of the initiative.
- With second eight-week classes beginning in October, WSU Tech continues to see more enrollment in the fall 2020 semester.