WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — According to a newly released report from the Kansas Board of Regents, the state has nine percent fewer college students than it did five years ago.
“What you’re seeing is an impact of the last several years,” Karen Goos, Vice Provost of Enrollment Management at Kansas State University (K-State), said.
Goos says in addition to the pandemic and out-of-state competition, a decrease in the number of Kansans choosing a postsecondary education is driving enrollment numbers down across the board.
“We’ve had smaller classes, fewer students going to college, and choosing particularly that four-year university over the last several years,” Goos said.
The University of Kansas (KU) says addressing affordability concerns and accepting students based on GPA instead of standardized test scores are helping reverse the trend. This fall, KU reported its largest incoming freshman class since 2008.
“In fact, we had our highest ever out-of-state student enrollment with freshman year this year as well,” Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of News & Media Relations at KU, said.
Wichita State University (WSU) is an outlier in the report as the only state university with an enrollment increase of more than one percent (5.1%, to be exact) in the past year. In the past five years, the university’s student enrollment has gone up by more than 12%.
Meanwhile, tech school attendance has increased statewide. WSU Tech saw a 3.9% increase this past year and a 17.7% increase in the past five years.
“The whole idea of short-term education, industry credentials, technical certificates are so incredibly important to the fabric of economic prosperity of the people of Kansas and of our Kansas employers,” WSU Tech President Sheree Utash said.
Of the state’s seven tech schools, Flint Hills Technical College saw the biggest boost in enrollment: a 17.9% increase in the past year and a 41.6% increase in the past five years.