Wichita State sees highest enrollment in more than 30 years
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Combined enrollment by headcount across all Wichita State University locations for fall 2022 is 21,942, according to the annual data released Thursday by the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR).
For the Wichita State main campus, the numbers represent an increase of 5.1 percent in fall student headcount from 16,097 in 2021 to 16,921 in 2022. That’s the largest number of students choosing to enroll at Wichita State since 1989.
At WSU Tech, student headcount increased 3.9% from 4,834 last year to 5,021 this year — WSU Tech’s highest fall semester headcount ever.
“Since the affiliation in 2018, WSU and WSU Tech have worked as one to provide an affordable and accessible education and to create a growing talent pipeline for our community,” WSU President Rick Muma said. “Even with the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the economy, Wichita State University continues to make a difference in the lives of an increasing number of students and their families.”
Helping to push the enrollment jump at Wichita State is the increase in students from several metro areas in seven other states in the region, receiving in-state tuition to attend WSU.
“The in-state tuition was a lot cheaper than a lot of schools in Texas, but my family and I have watched WSU basketball since probably I was elementary school, so I’m familiar with the area, love the school and I’m like, ‘it’s a good fit,’” Wichita State junior Jacob Headerick said.
Sophomore Sydney Rice said she prefers WSU’s campus and class sizes to another larger state school closer to home.
“Being from Kansas City, everybody goes to KU, and it’s just ginormous, and I could not imagine dealing with that big of classes,” she said.
Muma said recruiting in and outside of Kansas, and then retaining students is part of the strategy at Wichita State.
“It just verifies what we’ve been doing for a very long time. and it’s working,” he said. “And it’s not just working for the university, it’s working for our community. It’s brining people to this institution and educating them. That’s the whole point of a public education, and I’m so glad that people are seeing that this is a good place to come, and it does make us feel good.”
The Kansas Board of Regents’ numbers for state universities, show a decline in headcount for many. WSU is the only state college with a double-digit increase (by percentage) over the last five years, the data shows.
“Overall the trend in higher education across the country is a decline. The pandemic certainly accelerated that,” Muma said. “One of the things that we offer here is just this urban environment with all these businesses and industry that are available for jobs.”
Despite universities and community colleges seeing a downward trend in enrollment overall, technical colleges are seeing the opposite as evident with the growth at WSU Tech. Over the last five years, WSU Tech experienced a 17.7% increase.
“I think (if) we keep going up in enrollment while keeping the family atmosphere would be amazing,” Rice said.
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