October 5, 2007 :: State Colleges Still Seeing Slight Drop in Enrollment
Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities continue to see a slight drop in enrollment, according to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
Figures released by the State Regents in the Fall 2007 Preliminary Enrollment Report for Oklahoma Higher Education show that total headcount is down 0.2 percent compared to the same time last year. A total of 178,305 students have enrolled in classes this fall, 373 fewer than in fall 2006.
“This slight dip in enrollment was anticipated,” Chancellor Glen D. Johnson said. “Even though enrollment at Oklahoma’s public institutions remains near record highs, Oklahoma’s strong economy draws traditional students to other opportunities, so they put college on hold.”
“There are fewer traditionally eligible college students in Oklahoma,” Johnson said. “As the applicant pool shrinks, so too does our enrollment. However, the state system is taking action by seeking to attract non-traditional students back to higher education through the ReachHigher program, which offers these students the opportunity to complete a degree at their own pace and at an affordable cost.”
The report reveals that just one or two percentage points separate the three tiers within the state system when comparing total headcount this fall to last fall. The research universities, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, and the University of Oklahoma, Norman, have experienced the smallest decrease, 0.1 percent, followed by the regional universities at 1.2 percent. The only tier to see an increase in enrollment was the state’s community colleges at 0.6 percent.
Five of the 11 regional universities are seeing increases in total headcount for fall 2007. The headcount at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, had an increase of 3.4 percent, while Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva, increased 2.1 percent, and Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Goodwell, increased 1.4 percent. Langston University, Langston, saw a 1.1 percent increase and the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, increased 0.2 percent.
Of the 12 community colleges in the state, half had increases in total headcount from fall 2006 to fall 2007. Connors State College, Warner, leads the group with a 13.4 percent increase, followed by Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa, at 5.3 percent, Murray State College, Tishomingo, at 2.9 percent, Redlands Community College, El Reno, at 2.2 percent, Tulsa Community College at 1.8 percent and Oklahoma City Community College at 0.8 percent.
The report shows the top five institutions in total headcount this fall are OU, 25,704 students; OSU, 22,693 students; TCC, 16,967 students; UCO, 15,753 students; and OCCC, 12,540 students.
Although fall enrollments at Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities have decreased overall, the number of first-time freshmen has increased by 0.7 percent across the state system. The largest percentage increase is at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva, at 39.7 percent.
The research universities saw a 7.8 percent increase in first-time freshman. The state’s regional universities and community colleges are seeing average decreases of 0.6 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.
Colleges and universities across the state also report a slight decrease in full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, meaning the number of credit hours that equal a full-time student. The fall semester FTE at public institutions has dropped 1.3 percent from 2006.