By CRISTINA JANNEY
Fort Hays State University has reported an 8.2 percent decline in fall enrollment year over year, according to data released by the Kansas Board of Regents Thursday.
FHSU has seen a drop in headcount of 18.6 percent from a five-year high of 15,908 in 2019 to 12,951 on Sept. 20 of this year.
FHSU saw the most significant year-over-year drop in headcount enrollment compared to the other Regents universities. FHSU was also down in full-time equivalent students. The Regents consider undergraduate students who are enrolled in 15 hours and graduate students who are enrolled in 12 hours as full-time students.
Public universities and community colleges experienced a decrease in enrollment, while technical colleges had an increase. Overall, the Regents system has experienced a 1 percent decline in enrollment compared to the prior year.
Across the six state universities, there was a decrease of 1,333 students (-1.5 percent). Community colleges experienced a decrease of 630 students (-1 percent), while technical colleges saw an increase of 569 students (6 percent).
See the full report here.
“The preliminary fall enrollment numbers show a continued trend of decreasing enrollment for many Kansas colleges and universities,” Regents Chairman Jon Rolph said. “Our system is taking decisive action to reverse declining enrollments, better serve students and ensure that our state has the workforce needed to grow the Kansas economy.
"Initiatives such as our general education package and implementation of student success initiatives will help our system serve and graduate more students.”
Emporia State University, which has experienced smaller declines in enrollment compared to FHSU, has already taken steps to reorganize the university and cut costs. This included suspending tenure and firing some faculty.
FHSU started a reorganization of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in the spring that included the consolidation of departments within the college. The university also offered early retirement buyouts to staff.
However, FHSU has not announced any layoffs of tenured faculty similar to the steps taken at Emporia.
FHSU President Tisa Mason released the following statement Thursday on the enrollment numbers.
The recent decline in overall enrollment at FHSU is a challenge the university anticipated and is thoughtfully addressing through sound budgeting and detailed strategic planning. Innovative, resilient and caring people have long been the strength of this institution, and we are seeing our people turning challenge into opportunity yet again.
Two major investments we’ve made as part of the university’s strategic plan directly contributed to a rise in our retention rate. The Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success, which opened on campus in fall 2021, along with an investment in comprehensive academic advising services, were drivers behind a very strong 3 percent rise in our freshman retention rate.
This academic year, Fort Hays State University will serve close to 13,000 students on-campus, online and on our partner campuses across the globe. The unmatched affordability and quality of an FHSU education continue to be a great strength of the university and one we will continue to leverage in our efforts to return to strong and sustained growth.
NCK Tech's enrollment was up 12.8 percent for a five-year high of 999 students.
Northwest Technical College was the one school in the Regent's technical college system that saw a year-over-year decrease. Enrollment dropped 3.2 percent and is at a five-year low of 666 students.
NCK Tech officials said the college will be releasing more on the enrollment numbers Friday.