HAYS, KS -- Fort Hays State University's official 20th day headcount for the fall 2001 semester has increased by more than 2 percent from a year ago.
FHSU recorded a student headcount of 5,626 on Sept. 17, the official 20th day of enrollment. That was an increase of 120 students -- or 2.2 percent -- from the 20th day headcount of 5,506 in fall 2000.
The 20th day of classes 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 2001 student credit hour total of 64,603 on the 20th day compares to 63,687 for the 20th day in fall 2000. That is an increase of 916 student credit hours -- or 1.4 percent -- from the previous year.
"We're very pleased with the numbers for the 20th day," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "We also saw increases during the summer term and the spring term, so it is gratifying to see this evidence that our university is thriving and growing as we enter our Centennial year in 2002."
Enrollment for the summer 2001 term was 2,821, an increase of 182 students -- or 6.8 percent -- over the summer 2000 enrollment. The official 20th day headcount for the spring semester of 2001 was 5,288, an increase of 71 students -- or 1.4 percent -- over the official 20th day headcount of 5,217 for the spring semester of 2000.
"Anytime we see enrollment increases, credit needs to go to the people in all the offices and departments across campus who work so hard to make prospective students aware of the wonderful educational opportunities available at Fort Hays State," said Joey Linn, FHSU registrar. "I especially want to commend our faculty, who do a great job of teaching classes both on campus and through our Virtual College."
FHSU's Virtual College continued to lead the growth in enrollment. The 20th day enrollment figures showed a headcount of 1,177 in the Virtual College, an amazing 26 percent increase over last fall's official 20th day headcount of 934.
While the total headcount was up thanks to the Virtual College, the on-campus headcount for fall 2001 fell by 123 students from the fall 2000 headcount.
"The population in our traditional service area of western Kansas, as we were reminded by the 2000 census, continues to decline. Therefore, we will continue to rely on our Virtual College to supplement enrollment and maintain the critical mass for the resources that support our academic excellence," President Hammond said.
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 College of Health and Life Sciences through various formats, including but not limited to interactive television, video, CD-ROM and the Internet.
"Two important points should not be overlooked," Hammond said. "First, our dedication to the traditional college-aged students on our campus has not declined in any respect. In fact, recent accomplishments by our students in a variety of national academic competitions support our claim that we offer the best undergraduate education in the state of Kansas.
"Second, the development of our Virtual College represents an essential part of our mission to provide higher education for the people of western Kansas and beyond. Many people are able to improve their lives through additional courses and degrees without having to leave their jobs or uproot their families, and we ensure the quality of that education by depending on our core faculty to teach those courses."
It also should be noted that the changing face of higher education makes the official 20th day headcount numbers more and more irrelevant. While the 20th day headcount numbers remain important as a standard of measurement for the Regent system, they are somewhat misleading for FHSU because of the Virtual College.
By its nature, the Virtual College offers courses at locations and times that are most convenient for the people it serves. Students continue to enroll as new courses are offered throughout the semester, so that the final enrollment at the end of the semester will be significantly higher than the 20th day headcount. For example, FHSU's official 20th day headcount for the fall 2000 semester was 5,506, a decrease of half a percentage point from the 20th day headcount in fall 1999. However, the final headcount for fall 2000 was 5,784 -- an increase of 5 percent from the 20th day and actually 1 percent higher than the final headcount for the fall 1999 semester!