Slowing enrollment in Kansas schools shows economic recovery

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The number of students who enrolled in the Kansas higher education system dropped slightly last year, especially among older, nontraditional students, which officials say indicates economic recovery.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports the overall enrollment at Kansas public institutions, including community colleges and technical schools, fell 2.5 percent from the 2012-2013 academic year to 2013-2014. The headcount enrollment includes full time and part time students.

The Kansas Board of Regents met last week to discuss enrollment at the state’s schools, and officials say that the decline in enrollment by older students indicates that adults are moving back into the workforce.

“This is what we expected because during a recession, what happens? Well, people go back to school,” said Cynthia Farrier, director of data, research and planning for the regents. “What happens when the economy improves? People go back into the workforce.”

Enrollment at the state’s community colleges, which tend to attract nontraditional students who are attempting to complete a degree or obtain additional training, fell more sharply with a decline of 3.8 percent. Technical schools, however, have seen an increase of more than 6.5 percent over two years.

Farrier believes that the trend will continue for at least the next one or two years due to a projected decline in the number of high school graduates.

The report also indicates that only 53 percent of students who graduated in 2013 went directly to a Kansas institution. Regents Chairman Kenny Wilk said that Kansas schools must do a better job of attracting students straight out of high school. As he looked at the six university presidents seated in front of the board, Wilk said that the potential for recruitment was there.

“If I’m sitting in any one of the chairs out there, I’m looking at that and thinking, man what an opportunity.”

The board also reported that about one-fourth of students who received bachelor’s degrees from Kansas institutions in 2014 had attended three or more institutions on their way to that degree. About a third of graduates attended just one institution.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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