Fort Hays State University, which has more than doubled its enrollment over the past decade, announced yet another all-time headcount record for the official 20th-day of the fall semester, which was Monday, Sept. 17.
Of special significance, FHSU set a record for the number of incoming on-campus freshman for the second year in a row, which provides a solid base for enrollment growth in Hays in the coming years. The freshman class grew to 932 from the previous record of 926 a year ago.
"We had significant increases in two of our three delivery modalities, which are students on the Hays campus, students in our Virtual College and students at our partner universities in China," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "Both on-campus and virtual enrollments are up, and the China enrollment is down slightly."
The total 20th-day headcount is 13,310, which is an increase of 3.97 percent from last year's 20th-day headcount of 12,802. That is an increase of 508 students from last fall and the largest enrollment in the history of the university.
The Kansas Board of Regents uses the 20th day of classes as the official enrollment day to provide a standard basis for comparison from year to year. This year's numbers were announced after the last of the Regents universities passed its 20th day.
On-campus headcount this fall is 4,746 students. Last fall it was 4,683 students. That is an increase of 63 students, or 1.3 percent.
Headcount this fall in the Virtual College is 4,975 students. Last fall it was 4,451 students. That is an increase of 524 students, or 11.8 percent. The Virtual College makes a college education accessible to students who might not be able to relocate to a university community by delivering courses 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 Entrepreneurship, College of Education and Technology, and College of Health and Life Sciences through various formats, including the Internet.
"There is a misconception, probably due to the growth of our Virtual College, that we are serving fewer Kansans," President Hammond said. "As this fall's enrollment numbers show, that is not true. The total of Kansans is 6,745 compared to 6,441 last fall, which is an increase of 304 in-state students. Over the past five years, our growth in serving Kansans has been almost 20 percent, while three of the other Regents universities served significantly fewer Kansans."
The headcount of FHSU students at partner universities in China this fall is 3,589. Last fall it was 3,668 students, which is a decrease of 79 students, or -2.2 percent.
President Hammond explained that after years of growth, enrollment in China would stabilize for the foreseeable future. The Chinese government has established a ceiling for FHSU enrollments in its universities. The president speculated that changes in FHSU's Bachelor of Business Administration program and a downturn in the Chinese economy have been factors in the enrollment decline. The government pays tuition for its students in the partner Chinese universities, but the students have to pay their own tuition to earn FHSU degrees.
A closer look at the enrollment numbers shows several significant areas of growth:
· The number of Hispanic students on campus is up again this fall to 309, compared to 286 last year.
· The number of Hispanic students is also up in the Virtual College to 435 this fall, compared to 368 last fall.
· In total, 744 Hispanic students are enrolled at FHSU, which sets a new record.
· The number of international students on campus is up to 443 this fall from 395 last fall.
· Graduate enrollment on campus is up to 450 this fall, compared to 416 last fall.
· Likewise, the number of graduate students in the Virtual College is up to 1,403 this fall, compared to 1,228 a year ago.
A breakdown of on-campus freshmen numbers is also revealing:
· Enrollment from Sedgwick County climbed to 91, which is a 28.2 percent increase from last year and the largest freshman class ever from Sedgwick County. Since 2007, we have increased 139.47 percent in Sedgwick County enrollment.
· Wyandotte County grew from no students in 2007 to 5 last year to 11 this fall.
· Shawnee County increased 141.7 percent from last year, up to 29 students compared to 12 a year ago.
· Saline County has the largest freshman class ever, with 43 freshmen.
· The freshman class also includes 78 students from Colorado and 46 students from Nebraska.
"Local student growth continues to lay a solid foundation, with 52 percent of this year's Hays High School graduates and 44.5 percent of high school graduates from Ellis County enrolled at FHSU in fall 2012," President Hammond said. "Also, 42.5 percent of the freshman class is from western Kansas. When the students who know us best decide to come, it demonstrates that we are providing what they need in terms of high- quality academic programs and close personal attention."
President Hammond once again thanked faculty and staff for their efforts in producing the university's record growth over the past several years. "We all know the challenging work it has been as we have grown to this size and the impact on service units, especially Residential Life, and on our faculty," he said. "These new enrollment records are an achievement worth celebrating and a critical part of our strategic plan."