Kentucky State University’s undergraduate enrollment dipped last fall after it implemented a tougher admissions policy and pushed harder to collect outstanding tuition bills.
KSU enrolled 116 fewer undergraduates for a 4.5 percent drop, according to a report released by the Council on Postsecondary Education earlier this month. A preliminary count was announced in September.
It was one of four universities to lose undergraduates in the fall of 2011, along with Eastern Kentucky University with a 3.4 percent drop, Northern Kentucky University at 1.4 percent, and the University of Louisville at 0.3 percent.
Morehead State University was the lone standout to the relatively steady numbers, growing by more than 2,000 students for 27 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment.
KSU spokeswoman Felicia Lewis said the decrease could be attributed to an admissions requirement that incoming freshmen who are conditionally admitted must attend summer school before the academic year starts.
The university is also enforcing collection of students’ unpaid bills more strongly, she said.
University officials understand the reasons for the decrease, Lewis said. Revenue lost in the fall was made up through increased enrollment in spring 2012 as compared to the previous spring, she said.
They are working to boost enrollment through several methods, she said, including encouraging community college students to complete a four-year degree, working to make the transfer process easier, and boosting recruitment efforts with high school students and nontraditional students.
KSU is also expanding its degree offerings, Lewis said. For example, the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems will offer a new bachelor’s degree program in agriculture, food and environment this fall.
Online programs are also key, she said. KSU is also devising strategies to increase retention rates and expand its brand.
“We are also making it convenient to earn credit hours through intersession, where students take accelerated courses between regular semesters. KSU is currently offering a summer intersession and a winter intersession was held in January,” she said.
“Students have commented that they appreciate the additional time to take courses. Seniors especially appreciate the additional opportunity to fulfill their degree requirements.”
Graduate enrollment at KSU increased by 11 students for a 4.5 percent gain. Total enrollment dropped by about 4 percent to 2,746.
KSU’s enrollment has grown by a total of 19 percent over the last 10 years.
A total of 305,000 people were enrolled in a Kentucky college or university in the fall of 2011, including public, private and for-profit institutions. That means one in every 11 Kentuckians over the age of 16 was studying at the collegiate level, according to the report.
Meanwhile, KSU increased the number of students earning degrees this spring by nearly 30 percent – the most among Kentucky’s eight public universities.
KSU awarded an estimated 301 bachelor’s degrees, 71 master’s degrees and 54 associate’s degrees in May, according to data released last week by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
The numbers will be finalized after the fiscal year ends June 30.
Kentucky colleges and universities conferred a record 63,000 degrees and credentials during the 2011-2012 academic year, representing an overall increase of 4 percent over last year.
“Kentucky State University is pleased about the increase in the number of degrees we awarded to graduates, and we hope to continue this upward trend going forward,” Lewis said.