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October 8, 2003 :: Enrollment at Oklahoma’s Colleges and Universities Sets Record

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According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, total headcount is up 4 percent this fall compared with fall 2002. A total of 179,333 students have enrolled in classes this fall, the highest total enrollment ever for the state system. The number of new freshmen has jumped dramatically, increasing 8 percent.

State Regents released the information as part of the “Fall 2003 Preliminary Enrollment Report for Oklahoma Higher Education.”

“It’s exciting to see that so many Oklahomans are seeing the value and importance of a college education, and also recognizing the high quality of education they will receive at our state’s public colleges and universities,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said, noting that enrollment increases have occurred despite tuition increases this fall.

“Our state system institutions are affordable for anyone who truly has a desire to earn a degree,” Risser said.

The report, which contains enrollment data collected approximately two weeks after the fall semester began, shows that the state’s two-year colleges are responsible for most of the increase. Two-year institutions are seeing increases of 7 percent in total headcount this fall or approximately 4,500 students. Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa, and Rose State College, Midwest City, lead the way with increases of 21.7 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively. Oklahoma City Community College has posted a 10.1 percent increase.

“Enrollment is surging for lots of reasons, particularly as students realize that in today’s competitive market, two-year and four-year college experience is a real advantage,” Risser said.

The state’s comprehensive universities are experiencing an enrollment jump of 2.7 percent in total headcount compared to last fall. Enrollment at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, has increased 757 students, while 574 more students are enrolled at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. Total headcount on OSU’s branch campus in Oklahoma City has shot up 13.3 percent.

Enrollment gains at the state’s regional universities average 1.7 percent. Rogers State University, Claremore, leads the regional tier with an 8.4 percent increase compared to one year ago.

The report also provided a glimpse of how many first-time freshmen are enrolled this fall compared to fall 2002. Overall, the state system has gained 8 percent more new freshmen than last fall.

The two-year colleges report an 11.4 percent jump in first-time freshmen, including increases of 49.3 percent at Redlands Community College, El Reno, and 43.1 percent at NOC. The regional universities are posting a 6.1 percent increase, led by RSU at 16.8 percent, the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, at 9.9 percent and Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, at 9.3 percent. OSU had a 7.4 percent increased compared to last fall, while OU limited the number of new freshmen it accepted.

State Regents Chairman Ike Glass said State Regents’ student preparation programs, such as GEAR UP, the Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) and the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) are contributing to the enrollment increases, as well as the institutions’ own retention efforts.

“These increases are certainly good news for our colleges and universities, especially as we strive to put more graduates in the workforce. The student preparation programs and financial aid incentives appear to be making some positive inroads. We are hopeful that more Oklahomans will realize that a college education is possible and that they will take the steps necessary to accomplish their educational goals,” Glass said.

Download the Fall 2003 Preliminary Enrollment Report for Oklahoma Higher Education here. (PDF, 425k)