Fort Hays State University, which has been setting records regularly since the turn of the century, has set another all-time record for enrollment in a spring semester. The official 20th-day enrollment for spring 2016 was 12,338, which surpasses the enrollment of 11,889 from spring 2015 by 449 students. That is an increase of 3.8 percent.
The official 20th day enrollment number for Fort Hays actually is misleading because one of the two partner universities in China — Shenyang Normal University — starts its spring semester too late to be included in the official total. Shenyang delays the start of its spring semester every year to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The Shenyang spring enrollment of 684 students arrived this week. That compares to 643 last spring at Shenyang, which is an increase of 41 students.
The on-campus 20th day enrollment was 4,344, which was down 48 students from last spring, a decrease of 1.1 percent, according to Kent Steward, executive director of University Relations and Marketing.
“We are hopeful the Hispanic College Institute will be a major factor in reversing that small on-campus decline,” he said.
The record enrollments semester after semester and year after year at Fort Hays are extraordinary because just the opposite trend is occurring at universities nationally. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported in fall 2015, the most recent semester for which complete numbers were available, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased 1.7 percent from the previous fall. Taken as a whole, public-sector enrollment for combined two-year and four-year institutions declined by 2.3 percent. Enrollments actually increased slightly among four-year public institutions such as Fort Hays, at 0.4 percent, but the FHSU increase in fall 2015 was much higher than the national average, at 2.8 percent.
Likewise, the FHSU enrollment increase this spring bucks the national trend. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported in spring 2015, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased 1.9 percent from the previous spring. Enrollments increased slightly among four-year public institutions such as Fort Hays, at just 0.1 percent, but the FHSU enrollment increase in spring 2015 was a robust 2.7 percent. And, as reported above, the 20th-day enrollment increase for FHSU this spring was 3.8 percent.
“These numbers happen only because of the continuous hard work of our faculty, our staff and our students, who continue to spread the word about our programs of distinction,” said Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president. “Our continual enrollment increases in the face of national declines affirm that Fort Hays State is literally the destination of choice.”
Craig Karlin, FHSU registrar, noted some enrollment areas of special interest. He said the number of Kansans enrolled at Fort Hays this spring is 6,946, an increase of 191 students, or 2.8 percent, from 6,755 a year ago. In spring 2010, 5,762 Kansans were enrolled in FHSU classes. So just in the past six years, the number of Kansans enrolled at Fort Hays has increased by 1,184 students, or 20.5 percent.
Hispanic enrollment has been another area of emphasis for the Kansas Board of Regents. Karlin said the number of Hispanic students enrolled on campus grew to 375 this spring compared to 365 in spring 2015, an increase of 2.7 percent.
The number of students who identify themselves as black also continues to trend upward. The number of black students on campus this semester is 122 compared to 112 last spring, an increase of 8.9 percent.
Growth also continues to be strong in the Graduate School. The total number of graduate students is 2,449 this spring compared to 2,217 in spring 2015, which is an increase of 232 students, or 10.5 percent.
“We will not take our success for granted,” Karlin said. “It takes everyone to make it happen year-after-year. Our faculty and staff are truly dedicated and work hard to make it happen.”