Fort Hays State University, which has been the runaway growth leader for the past several years among universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system, set another all-time enrollment record with a 20th-day headcount of 9,588 students for the fall 2007 semester.
That surpasses the 20th-day enrollment of 9,122 students for the fall 2006 semester by 466 students, or 5.1 percent. The 20th day of classes, which was Monday, is the official enrollment day observed by the Regents at each of its six universities because it affords a standard basis for comparison.
Annual statistics from the Board of Regents show that FHSU has been the growth leader over the latest five-year reporting period. From fall 2001 to fall 2006, FHSU had an enrollment growth of 62.1 percent. During that same five-year period, Emporia State University saw an increase of 11.2 percent, Kansas State University grew by 3.2 percent, the University of Kansas increased by 3.8 percent, Pittsburg State University grew by 2.0 percent, and Wichita State University actually saw an enrollment decrease of 3.7 percent.
Once again, enrollment in FHSU's Virtual College -- students who do not take any on-campus classes -- led the growth. The Virtual College enrollment on the 20th day was 5,155, an increase of 535 students, or 11.6 percent, from the 20th day enrollment of 4,620 in the fall 2006 semester. The Virtual College delivers courses to students at locations and times that fit their busy schedules. It delivers "mediated" courses from FHSU's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Leadership, College of Education and Technology, and College of Health and Life Sciences through various formats, including but not limited to interactive television, video, CD-ROM and the Internet. The majority of the Virtual College students are Kansans, but FHSU also has more than 2,000 Virtual College students in China.
The on-campus 20th-day enrollment fell from a year ago. The on-campus headcount for fall 2007 was 4,433, a decline of 69 students, about 1.5 percent, from the fall 2006 enrollment of 4,502. Nearly 50 students from Turkey were enrolled last fall in a one-time English language program, and their absence this year accounts for most of the decline in on-campus enrollment.
"We have exceeded our goal of 5,000 students in the Virtual College and remain close to achieving the same goal of 5,000 students on campus," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "For the second year in a row, we have more students in the Virtual College than on campus, but it's significant to note that Virtual College students typically take a lighter class load than on-campus students. As a result, the number of total credit hours for on-campus students is 51,348, which is considerably higher than the total credit hours of 37,101 for our Virtual College students."
President Hammond thanked faculty and staff for their hard work in managing the university's record growth over the past several years. "We depend on our faculty and support staff for our high level of academic rigor," he said.