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October 7, 2005 :: Enrollment Continues Near Record Levels

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Fall enrollments at Oklahoma’s colleges and universities continue to approach record levels and are 11 percent higher than in fall 2000.

According to an Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education report, preliminary fall enrollment figures show that total headcount is within 0.1 percent of last year’s record high. A total of 181,328 students have enrolled in classes this fall.

“Student enrollments remain very high,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “This shows that not only are Oklahomans seeing the value of a college education but also indicates that our institutions are doing a good job of attracting and retaining students. These kinds of efforts must continue if we want our students to succeed and our state to prosper.”

The preliminary enrollment report revealed that the state’s community colleges experienced the largest percentage increase among the three tiers. Last fall, it was the state’s regional universities that had the most growth.

Regional universities are seeing average increases of 0.2 percent this fall, or approximately 100 more students. Rogers State University, Claremore, leads all regionals with an increase of 2.8 percent. The University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, is next at 2.4 percent, followed by the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha, at 2.1 percent. More than half 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 decreases in total headcount compared to one year ago. However, officials at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City are reporting an increase of 5.1 percent.

Of the 12 community colleges in the state, Murray State College, Tishomingo leads with an increase of 8.1 percent, which is also the largest increase of all the institutions in the state. Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa, is next at 7.2 percent, followed by the Western Oklahoma State College, Altus, at 3.8 percent.

Although fall enrollments at Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have increased, the number of first-time freshmen has decreased by 4.8 percent across the state system. The state’s regional universities and community colleges are seeing average decreases of 4.2 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. The largest percentage decrease is at Carl Albert State College, Sallisaw, with 25.4 percent. OU saw a decrease of 10.2 percent in first-time freshmen, while OSU had a slight increase of 1.6 percent.

The reduction in enrollment in the freshman class at OU was part of a strategy to “right-size” the freshman class to return the student-faculty ratio to around 18 to 1 and to alleviate some classroom crowding. OU’s student-faculty ratio had previously increased to about 22 to 1 during lean budget years.

The report also showed that the top five institutions in total headcount this fall are OU, 26,473 students; OSU, 23,165 students; Tulsa Community College, 16,803 students; UCO, 15,953 students; and Oklahoma City Community College, 12,778 students.

Colleges and universities across the state also reported an increase in the full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, meaning the number of full-time students. The semester FTE at public institutions increased 0.5 percent from 132,781 in fall 2004 to 133,385 in fall 2005.