Fort Hays State University continues to set overall records for enrollment, and today's release of the official 20th-day headcount for the spring 2009 semester also reverses a recent trend of declines in on-campus enrollment.
As of the 20th day, enrollment for the spring 2009 semester at FHSU climbed by 4.6 percent compared to the 20th day of the spring 2008 semester, with a count of 8,381 students compared to 8,011 a year ago. The enrollment for spring 2009 is an increase of 370 students from last year. On-campus enrollment grew by 14 students, to 3,969 this year from 3,955 in spring 2008, an increase of 0.4 percent. Virtual College enrollment grew by 356 students, to 4,412 this year from 4,056 in spring 2008, an increase of 8.8 percent.
"Even with the huge growth in our Virtual College over the past several years, which includes students in China, some overseas military students and their families, and students in most of the other 49 states, it is important to note that the number of Kansans enrolled at FHSU, in on-campus and Virtual College classes combined, has increased over the past couple of decades," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president.
"We saw a 4.7 percent increase in the number of Kansans served this spring from spring of 2008," he said. "The total number of Kansans enrolled in FHSU classes in spring 2009 had grown to 5,494, an increase of 248 students from 5,246 in spring 2008. From 1988, when we were serving 4,644 Kansans, we have seen an increase of 850 Kansas students -- 18.3 percent -- to the 5,494 Kansans that we have this spring."
The Kansas Board of Regents mandates that its six universities report their 20th-day headcounts each spring and fall semester to provide a standard basis for comparison. The 20th day for FHSU was Feb. 11, but classes do not start on the same day at all the universities so the headcounts were not released until today, after the last of the six universities had reached its 20th day.
The 8,381 total students is an all-time record 20th-day enrollment for a spring semester at FHSU, continuing a pattern of extraordinary growth that began with the 2002-2003 academic year.
"We are pleased to see that our enrollment continues to trend upward," President Hammond said. "Our successful growth strategy is all the more important during these times of difficult economic challenges. We are also encouraged to see that on-campus enrollment has rebounded after being stagnant or slightly down over the past two or three years."
The upward swing in on-campus enrollment actually began in the fall 2008 semester after the 20th-day headcount had been reported. Unlike the other Regents universities, students continue to enroll as new courses are offered throughout a semester at FHSU, especially in the Virtual College, so final enrollments at the end of a semester become significantly higher than 20th-day enrollments. For the fall 2008 semester, there was a 2.0 percent increase in enrollment from 10,107 on the 20th day to 10,308 by the end of the term.
The majority of that 2.0 percent increase was in the Virtual College, where enrollment climbed from 5,804 on the 20th day of the fall 2008 semester to 5,972 at the end of the semester, an increase of 168 students. However, there also was a significant increase in on-campus enrollment, which climbed from 4,303 on the 20th day of the fall 2008 semester to 4,336 at the end of the semester, an increase of 33 students.
FHSU's Virtual College delivers courses to students at locations and times that fit their busy schedules. It delivers "mediated" undergraduate and graduate 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 the Internet, video tapes, CD-ROM and Internet Protocol Television.
Over recent years, the convenience of the Virtual College has begun to have a small but perceptible impact on the on-campus enrollment as some students in Ellis and adjoining counties elect to take classes over the Internet instead of driving to campus. Unlike FHSU students in other states or in China, Virtual College students who live nearby contribute directly to the local economy. They use university facilities, such as the library, meet face to face with instructors, attend campus events and shop locally.
"In addition, the entire Virtual College enrollment benefits the local community," President Hammond pointed out, "because most of the faculty and staff who support Virtual College students reside in Hays and the surrounding communities. We would have fewer employees without the Virtual College."