FHSU fall enrollment sets new record

Fort Hays State University announced yet another all-time headcount record for the official 20th day of the fall semester, which was Monday, Sept. 15.

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.

The total 20th-day headcount is 13,825, which is an increase of 2.9 percent from last year's 20th-day headcount of 13,441. That is an increase of 384 students from last fall and the largest enrollment in the history of the university.

FHSU also enjoyed the largest class of incoming freshmen in its history this fall, with 988 students.

The Kansas Board of Regents uses the 20th day of classes as the official enrollment day to provide a standard basis for comparison from year to year. This year's numbers were announced after the last of the six Regents universities passed its 20th day.

"We are pleased that once again a record number of students have selected Fort Hays State University as their destination of choice for a high-quality education," said Dr. Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president. She took office on July 1 as the ninth president in the university's 112-year history.

"Our continuing growth results from hard work by faculty and staff that allows us to offer the most affordable tuition in the region and academic programs of distinction that attract students with a promise of success in their chosen careers," the president said. "We are committed to their success, and since I arrived three months ago, I have emphasized that both recruitment and retention are everybody's job at Fort Hays State."

The headcount of FHSU students at partner universities in China this fall is 3,165. Last fall it was 3,294 students, which is a decrease of 129 students. That continues a slight decline in enrollment in China, possibly resulting from a downturn in the Chinese economy. The government pays tuition for its students in the partner Chinese universities, but the students have to pay their own tuition to earn FHSU degrees.

Enrollment continued to grow in FHSU's other two delivery modalities, more than compensating for the decline in Chinese enrollment.

On-campus headcount this fall is 4,800 students. Last fall it was 4,767 students. That is an increase of 33 students, or 0.7 percent.

Headcount this fall in the Virtual College is 5,860 students. Last fall it was 5,380 students. That is an increase of 480 students, or 9.0 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.

"According to national research, this was supposed to be a year of small growth in online enrollments, so we are excited to see our years of effort rewarded," said Dennis King, director of the FHSU Virtual College. "In our continuing commitment to quality improvement, most of the growth in Virtual College enrollment was due to hiring additional full-time faculty to teach online courses."

President Martin noted that FHSU continues to grow in the number of Kansans served. "We have 7,141 Kansans enrolled this fall, compared to 6,900 last year," she said. "That is an increase of 241 students, which is 3.5 percent."

She also noted that the number of Hispanic students continues to grow. That enrollment this year on campus is 401. "It was just 94 as recently as 2002," she said, "which is an increase of more than 400 percent over the past 12 years."

Other interesting areas in the fall 2014 enrollment numbers include:
 A 25.7 percent increase in new transfer students on campus;
 A 14.6 percent increase in freshmen from Nebraska;
 A 43.9 percent increase in freshmen from Saline County;
 A 50.0 percent increase in freshmen from Johnson County;
 A 16.7 percent increase in freshmen from Sedgwick County;
 The largest transfer class -- 38, which is an increase of 223.5 percent -- from Hutchinson Community College; and
 The largest transfer class -- 59, which is an increase of 59.5 percent -- from Barton County Community College.

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