Unofficial enrollment nears 29,000, including 24,600 in Corvallis
Oregon State University’s enrollment continues to rise, with 24,600 students reporting to the main campus in Corvallis for fall classes, according to preliminary numbers released Wednesday by the university.
Assuming that estimate holds, the number is up 1,382, or about 5.6 percent, from the revised figure of 23,218 from fall 2012.
This year’s enrollment numbers still are in a state of flux, as some students decide to drop classes and others sign up late. OSU officials emphasized Wednesday that these preliminary numbers will change by the time the Oregon University System announces the final tally, after the fourth week of the quarter.
For now, at least, Oregon State’s fastest-growing student segment is at the Cascades satellite campus in Bend, which enrolled 900 students this fall, up about 12.4 percent from 801 last year.
Online classes also saw substantial growth. Some 3,420 students signed up for classes through OSU’s Ecampus, up about 7.7 percent from last fall’s final tally of 3,175.
That makes for a total of 28,920, about a 6.3 percent increase from last September’s overall enrollment of 27,194 and a record high for Oregon State.
However, comparing this year’s early returns with last fall’s revised figures can be misleading, cautions Kate Peterson, the university’s assistant provost for enrollment management. (For example, the number of students on the OSU campus declined by about 300 between the early estimate in fall 2012 and the final tally as students dropped out for various reasons.)
Based on her comparison of this fall’s second-day-of-classes tally with counts from the same time last year, Peterson comes up with a 4.5 percent growth rate for the Corvallis campus, 24 percent for Cascades and 24 percent for the Ecampus.
Mindful of community pushback over livability issues related to years of student population growth in Corvallis, OSU President Ed Ray has pledged to cap enrollment on the main campus at 28,000.
University officials are pursuing a multipronged strategy to stay below that ceiling.
“As we look at the overall enrollment growth for OSU, we’re really concentrating on the expansion of our online offerings and increasing enrollment at our Cascades campus in Bend,” Peterson said.
The university also is promoting its dual-enrollment program, which allows students to take their lower-division classes at one of Oregon’s 17 community colleges before transferring to OSU.
Moreover, demographic trends indicate the growth curve should begin to flatten out considerably after the next academic year, Peterson said.
Recent forecasts from the Oregon University System, based in part on the number of students in Oregon’s K-12 pipeline, suggest that enrollment growth in the state’s seven public universities will fall off sharply by fall 2015.
“Many institutions across the United States are already starting to see smaller increases or actual declines in enrollment,” Peterson said.
Contact reporter Bennett Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-758-9529.