The trend of remarkable growth at Fort Hays State University continues, as shown in the 20th-day headcount that is mandated by the Kansas Board of Regents.
As of the 20th day, enrollment for the spring 2007 semester at FHSU climbed by 8.3 percent compared to the 20th day of the spring 2006 semester, with a count of 7,579 students compared to 6,997 a year ago. The enrollment for spring 2007 is an increase of 582 students from last year.
The count of 7,579 was for the 20th day of classes, which was Feb. 7 at FHSU. The 20th day of each semester is the official enrollment day observed by the Regents for its six universities because it affords a standard basis for comparison. Classes do not start on the same day at all the universities, so the 20th-day counts are not released until the last of the six universities reaches its 20th day.
Even though the 20th-day enrollment demonstrates FHSU's pattern of growth in terms of percentages, it actually downplays the university's true enrollment. That's because enrollment at FHSU includes two categories of students -- on-campus students and Virtual College students. The 20th-day headcount is misleading at FHSU because enrollments continue throughout the semester in the Virtual College, which delivers classes at a distance through the Internet, interactive protocol television and other mediums.
The on-campus enrollment for spring 2007 is 4,171 compared to 4,129 a year ago, an increase of 42 students, or 1.0 percent.
The Virtual College enrollment for spring 2007 is 3,408 compared to 2,868 a year ago, an increase of 540 students, or 18.8 percent. However, that does not include the enrollments from some of FHSU's partner universities in China. The Chinese universities start their semesters later in the spring, so not all of their numbers are included in FHSU's 20th-day count.
When those overseas enrollments arrive, and as domestic enrollments in the Virtual College continue throughout the semester, FHSU's spring 2007 enrollment will add approximately 700 students to the 7,579 who were reported on the 20th day.
"We are on track to reach our goal of serving 10,000 students per semester, " said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "This spring, after the additional Virtual College enrollments have been counted, we will serve approximately 8,280 students."
University enrollments are typically smaller during spring semesters compared to fall semesters. Last semester -- fall 2006 -- FHSU's final enrollment was 9,307.
Enrollment at FHSU remained fairly steady through the 1990s, increasing about 1 percent a year, but the trend of rapid growth began a few years ago when other universities in Kansas started implementing double-digit tuition increases. With a slogan of "Affordable Success," FHSU began to tout its lower tuition and its record of academic excellence, and its enrollment began to soar.
According to the most recent statistics from the Regents office, FHSU enjoyed an astounding enrollment growth of 63.8 percent from fall 2000 to fall 2005. During that same five-year period, Emporia State University saw an increase of 12.0 percent, Kansas State University grew by 5.7 percent, the University of Kansas increased by 3.9 percent, Pittsburg State University grew by 3.3 percent, and Wichita State University actually saw an enrollment decrease of 5.0 percent.
"We anticipate continuing growth," President Hammond said. "With population declining in western Kansas, our primary service area, we are redoubling our efforts to attract traditional students to campus from the state's populous 'turnpike corridor,' and we have added a partnership with a university in Turkey and four new partnerships with universities in China, bringing our total there to eight."