WKU plans to combat nationwide enrollment decline

Published: May. 30, 2018 at 6:31 PM CDT
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Western Kentucky University is expecting to face yet another year of decline in enrollment numbers, but new plans in place hope to combat the problem that higher education universities across the country are also facing.

Since the Fall of 2012, WKU has seen a steady four percent decline in total number of students.

Media Relations Director Bob Skipper says the issue is not enrollment itself, rather the revenue the university acquires from its students.

WKU has fewer international students, who pay the highest tuition at $26,952 per year, and more of dual credit students, who pay the lowest tuition at $53 per credit hour.

Western though, has plans in place to combat that problem.

"We're in the process of hiring a new associate provost for Global Learning and International Affairs, and that person will be tasked with trying to find a way to turn around the decline in international enrollment," said Skipper.

Another problem contributing to the decresing percentages is retention rates. This issue has also been recognized and the university has already created new programs to help students stay in school.

"People are in the same area who are recruiting students getting them actually admitted here on campus and seeing them through to completion until they graduate," he added.

Skipper said that another issue is the economy, high school graduates are now opting to go straight into the work force.

"They look at it short term and go, 'I can work and make money or go to school and be in debt," SKipper said.

He says the biggest key to raising enrollment and retention rates is to highlight the value of a degree from Western Kentucky University.

"It's not so much how much it costs, but how much you can gain from it, how much more you'll be able to make over your lifetime with a college degree versus someone who doesn't have a college degree," Skipper added.

The university mentioned that the previous year's budget shortfall is not expected to hurt the enrollment for the fall semester of 2018.