Fort Hays State University set another all-time headcount record on the official 20th day of the fall semester, including the biggest class of incoming on-campus freshmen in the school's history.
The official 20th day for FHSU was Monday, Sept. 16,. All the Kansas Board of Regents universities release their enrollment numbers when the last of the schools reaches its 20th day. This provides a basis for comparison of enrollments from year to year.
The total 20th-day headcount is 13,441, which is an increase of 1.0 percent from last year's 20th-day headcount of 13,310. That is an increase of 131 students from last fall and the largest enrollment in the history of the university.
On-campus headcount this fall is 4,767 students. Last fall it was 4,746 students. That is an increase of 21 students, or 0.4 percent. "Perhaps most important as an indicator of future enrollments, the number of on-campus freshmen grew by 30, up to 962," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "As recently as five years ago, in 2008, the headcount for new freshmen was just 767."
President Hammond also cited some other significant areas of growth. He noted that overall Hispanic enrollment grew to 869 students this fall, compared to 744 in fall 2012, which is an increase of 125 students, or 16.8 percent. A total of 344 Hispanic students are on campus, which is up 35 from a year ago. A total of 525 are taking all virtual classes, which is an increase of 90.
"Our Graduate School enrollment also continues to climb, up to 2,008 this fall, compared to 1,853 a year ago, which is an increase of 155 students," he said. Of those 155 graduate students, 14 are on the Hays campus and 141 are in the Virtual College.
Some other specific areas of interest in the fall 2013 enrollment numbers include:
**The largest number of new freshmen from the state of Colorado in the history of FHSU, up to 122 from 78 a year ago, an increase of 44;
**The largest number of freshmen from Ford County in the last five years, up to 17 from just 4 a year ago;
**An increase in the number of students from Barton County, with 26 this year compared to 10 last year; and
**A new record for freshmen from Shawnee County, where Topeka is located, up to 30 this fall from 29 a year ago.
FHSU delivers college courses through three modalities -- to students on the Hays campus, to students in the Virtual College and to students at partner universities in China.
Headcount this fall in the Virtual College is 5,380 students. Last fall it was 4,975 students. That is an increase of 405 students, or 8.1 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.
The headcount for the China modality fell for the second year in a row, down to 3,294 students at partner universities there. Last fall it was 3,589 students, which is a decrease of 295 students, or -8.2 percent. In fall 2012, the headcount in the China program fell by 79 students from fall 2011.
"The decline in China was expected," President Hammond said. "What we generally call the China modality could be more accurately described as the 'cross-border' delivery modality because while the vast majority of those students are located in China, from year to year we sometimes have smaller programs in other countries."
This year FHSU canceled one of those programs at Maxwell College in Indonesia, which represented 130 of the 295-student decline. "We pulled the plug on Maxwell because we were not comfortable with the quality of that program," he said. "That means the actual decline in China was 165 students, mostly due to that nation's one-child policy, which has decreased the number of 18-year-olds."
Even though the pace of the enrollment increase slowed a bit this year due to the decline in the cross-border modality, FHSU continues to be a growth leader. Just last month, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the nation's leading source of news about colleges and universities, reported that FHSU was the third-fastest-growing university in the United States from 2001 to 2011. From an enrollment of 5,626 in fall 2001, FHSU grew to 12,802 in fall 2011, which was an increase of 127.6 percent.
While the total enrollment outside Kansas fell by 24 students this fall, the number of Kansans grew. "Probably because of the growth in our Virtual College, we consistently have to correct the misconception that we are serving fewer state citizens," President Hammond said. "As this fall's enrollment numbers show, that is not true. The total of Kansans is 6,900 compared to 6,745 last fall, which is an increase of 155 in-state students."
President Hammond commended faculty and staff for their efforts in producing the university's record growth over the past several years. "These enrollment records result from hard work by many people," he said. "Results like this reflect the 'Power of One,' as the efforts of each individual contribute to our overall success."