Kansas technical colleges see enrollment increase, community colleges decline

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) The Kansas Board of Regents released fall enrollment numbers for colleges and universities across the state on Wednesday.

Kansas technical colleges saw significant growth this fall. All but one reported an increase in enrollment from 2018 to 2019.

Manhattan Area Technical College saw the greatest increase at 16.30% from 779 students to 906 students. Northwest Kansas Technical College was the only noted decline at 10.48% from 821 students to 735 students.

Almost every community college across the state saw declining enrollment from last year to this year.

Labette Community College saw the sharpest drop at 20.66% from 2,062 students to 1,636 students. Other drops varied from .16% to 7.96%. Kansas City Kansas Community College was the only 2-year institution that saw growth adding 116 students.

Wichita State, Emporia State, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State all welcomed growth in 2019.

Wichita State said for the first time in nearly 30 years, more than 16,000 students enrolled for fall classes. The total headcount at Wichita State for fall 2019 is 16,058 students, an increase of 274 students, or 1.7%, over fall 2018.

Emporia State saw growth in first-time freshmen undergraduate students with a 4% increase over fall 2018. The university said new first-time graduate students also added to the total, resulting in the highest number of total graduate students in school history.

Fort Hays State posted a 2.48% increase from 15,523 students to 15,908 students. Pittsburg saw growth of .30% from 6,625 students to 6,645.

Kansas State University-Veterinary Medicine and the University of Kansas Medical Center both saw growth at .86% and 1.74% respectively.

Both K-State (-2.33%) and KU (-.75%) posted declines, but K-State said the university's Global, Polytechnic and Olathe campuses all had an increased number of students enrolled, which offsets the enrollment decline in Manhattan.

"As the ebb and flow of higher education continues across the nation, K-State's diverse campuses accommodate a variety of interests — from technical and aviation programs to advanced degrees for working professionals — that meet students' changing interests," said Chuck Taber, provost and executive vice president. "It is K-State's student-first mentality that is improving retention and graduation rates across the university."

For reporting purposes, the KBOR considers full-time undergraduate students must be enrolled in 15 credit hours per semester while graduate students must be enrolled in 12 credit hours per semester.

Kelly Snedden, the director of college relations with Butler Community College says the new enrollment numbers show a trend they've seen before. Some years, the numbers are up, and some years they're down.

A trend she sees when the economy is good is that classes are not a top priority because more people are working. When the economy is not as strong, she says the college sees more people enrolling in classes.

Snedden says the college watches the numbers closely and Butler has implemented changes to try to make taking college classes convenient for those who want to go.

"Within the last couple of years, we've put in place a shorter and more direct path to a degree, and academics has worked very had to evaluate all of our pathways that are leading to degrees," she says.

Snedden says Butler is also looking at the opportunity to offer more one-year certificates. She says even with lower enrollment numbers, the college is seeing some gains, including growth with its Hispanic student population and with high school programs.

You can find a full enrollment report for Kansas' public universities on the Kansas Board of Regents website