HAYS, KS -- Fort Hays State University's official 20th day headcount for the fall 2000 semester remained virtually unchanged from the same date a year ago, falling by only half a percentage point.
FHSU recorded a student headcount of 5,506 on Monday, Sept. 18, the official 20th day of enrollment. That was a decrease of 27 students -- or 0.5 percent -- from the 20th day of enrollment of 5,533 in fall 1999.
The 20th day of enrollment is the official enrollment day observed by the Kansas Board of Regents for each of its six universities.
Headcount is just one way to measure enrollment. Another measurement is student credit hours, which is the total number of hours taken by all students during the semester. The Board of Regents uses student credit hours for the full calendar year to adjust the budgets of its regional universities. The fall 2000 student credit hour total of 63,687 compares to 63,731 in fall 1999. That is a decrease of only 44 student credit hours -- or barely a tenth of one percentage point -- from the previous year.
"We're very pleased with the numbers for the 20th day," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said. "Our enrollment was down about 11.5 percent in the summer term, so I thought we might be down more than we are for the fall semester."
Strength in the national economy, which is reflected in segments of the Kansas economy, tends to lure potential students away to good-paying jobs. "We have a number of students who didn't return to school this fall because their summer employers made it attractive for them to stay in their jobs," Hammond said.
The 20th day enrollment figures showed a headcount of 934 in FHSU's Virtual College, which was one of the highest ever. Hammond said the Virtual College enrollment was another indicator that a good economy tends to suppress enrollment. "We have more students opting to take classes through the Virtual College because that allows them to stay in their home communities and work at the same time they are earning college credit," he said.
The FHSU 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 College of Health and Life Sciences through various formats, including but not limited to interactive television, video, CD-ROM and the Internet.
"Our Virtual College is a prime example of FHSU's commitment to recognize and meet the changing educational needs of the people of western Kansas and beyond," President Hammond said. "Not only have we fully incorporated computers and information technology into the curriculum of our traditional campus, but our mediated courses offer higher education to people who previously would have been denied that opportunity because of their location or work schedule."
"The continuing growth of the Virtual College provides conclusive proof that FHSU is moving in the right direction for the people we serve," Hammond added.
It should also be noted that while the 20th day enrollment numbers are important as a standard measure for the Regent system, they are somewhat misleading for FHSU because of its Virtual College. By its nature, the Virtual College offers courses at locations and times that are most convenient for the people it serves. Students will continue to enroll as new courses are offered throughout the semester.