Full-time student enrollment for the 2021-22 school year has decreased at public universities but increased at community and technical colleges in Kansas, according to the annual Board of Regents report.
The report, described as preliminary, shows a slight decline in full-time enrollment at Cowley College compared to the previous year for the fall. In 2020, the college saw a full-time enrollment of 1,771 students, an increase from 2019. That fell slightly this year to 1,723, a decrease of 2.7 percent. During the past five years, the college has seen enrollment drop 15.8 percent. A total of 2,045 full-time students were enrolled in 2016.
Cowley’s overall headcount also decreased by 2.2 percent, falling from 2,475 in 2020, to 2,421, a drop of 2.2 percent. The total headcount has decreased by 15.5 percent the past five years.
Cowley trustee board Chair Gary Wilson said Wednesday that declining enrollment is happening all across the state, not just this area.
“That’s one of the reasons I am glad to see the building and trades area get up and running,” he said. “That should bring in more students.”
Wilson said that the college has converted its bus barn into a training center that will teach electrical, plumbing and carpentry skills. He said only seven students are enrolled at this point, but he expects that number to grow.
“Our welding course is completely full, so is our auto mechanics class here and at Mulvane, so there is a definite need,” he said.
Wilson said along with the classroom instruction, students also have the opportunity to work at actual job sites. Students finish with a certificate and actual job experience. Some students even will be hired into good paying jobs before they even finish the class because of demand, he said.
Wilson said that more and more colleges are realizing that technical training is in high demand and are starting to offer those classes.
“I have been hollering about that ever since I got on the board.”
While many of the state’s colleges saw a drop in enrollment, all but one technical school, the Wichita State University Campus of Applied scienced and Technology, saw an increase in full time enrollment for the fall semester. Community colleges across the state saw a combined 1.2 percent increase in students but enrollment is down 17.5 percent over a five-year period.
Overall headcount for community colleges grew by 4.5 percent, but remains 16.4 percent below the 2016.
State universities saw a 2.4 percent decrease from the previous fall, dropping from 70,905 full-time students to 69,170. Over the past five years, fall enrollment has fallen by 8.6 percent.
Overall head count also decreased, falling from 91,282 to 89,757. A drop of 1.79 percent from last year, and a loss of 4.8 percent from 2016.
According to the report, several colleges have reported that the number of high school student enrollments had returned closer to pre-pandemic levels, which resulted in a statewide headcount increase.
Current enrollment information for all Kansas colleges can be found by visiting Kansasregents.org.