September 27, 2004 :: Record Enrollments Continuing Throughout State System
Students are still attending Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities in record numbers this fall.
According to an Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education report, preliminary fall enrollment figures show that total headcount is up 1.3 percent across the entire state system compared to fall 2003. A total of 181,590 students have enrolled in classes this fall, beating last fall’s record enrollment of 179,209 students.
“Students are seeing the value of a college education more than ever, and Oklahoma’s higher education institutions are providing a top-notch education for less money,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “Even though tuition went up across the state system this fall, tuition is less than most other states, and institutions increased financial aid. This report is also showing that retention is improving.”
The preliminary enrollment report revealed that the state’s regional universities experienced the largest percentage increase among the three tiers. Last fall, it was the state’s community colleges that had the most growth.
Regional universities are seeing average increases of 2.9 percent this fall, or approximately 1,600 more students. Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Goodwell, leads all regionals with an increase of 11.9 percent. Cameron University, Lawton, is next at 5.8 percent, followed by Rogers State University, Claremore, and East Central University, Ada, at 5.6 percent. Nearly all of the regional universities are reporting increases in total headcount.
The state’s research universities, the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, report small increases in total headcount compared to one year ago. However, officials at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City are reporting an increase of 6.4 percent.
Of the 12 community colleges in the state, Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa, is the only one posting a double-digit increase. NOC officials report that total headcount has risen 20.9 percent compared to one year ago. They cite an enrollment surge at the college’s new Stillwater campus as a main reason for the increase.
First-time freshman enrollment has also gone up, albeit by less than 1 percent, across the state system. The state’s regional universities and community colleges are seeing average increases of 2.9 and 2.4 percent, respectively. The largest percentage increase is at Murray State College, Tishomingo, 19.3 percent; followed by Rose State College, Midwest City, 18.5 percent; Langston University, 16.4 percent; and NOC, 10.2 percent. Both OU and OSU report a drop of 5.1 percent; however, officials at both schools cite increased admission standards as a major reason for the decline.
According to the report, the top five institutions in total headcount this fall are: OU, 27,280 students; OSU, 23,330 students; Tulsa Community College, 16,982 students; the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, 15,574 students; and Oklahoma City Community College, 12,527 students.
“It’s great news that even more students are enrolling in our state system institutions, because our state needs more college graduates. Let’s hope this trend continues,” State Regents’ Chairman Jimmy Harrel said, noting that colleges and universities are in need of more classroom space, equipment and other necessities to meet the demands of a growing student population.