It’s official: Oregon State University set a new record for fall enrollment this year, although the numbers are slightly lower than preliminary estimates.
According to data released Thursday by the Oregon University System, OSU’s total enrollment is 28,861, up 1,667 from last fall and edging out Portland State University for the most students at any Oregon public university.
That total is slightly less than the initial tally of 28,920 released by OSU officials in October. Typically, some students drop classes after signing up for fall term.
Of OSU’s total fall enrollment, 24,158 students attend classes at the main campus in Corvallis. Another 936 are signed up at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend, and 3,767 are online learners who take classes electronically through the Ecampus program.
Total enrollment in the Oregon University System’s seven member institutions is at an all-time high of 103,074. That’s an increase of 1,681 students, or 1.7 percent, from fall 2012.
Nevertheless, the systemwide growth rate has been tailing off for the last several years as the economy began recovering from a deep recession. After three straight years of 5 percent-plus annual increases, enrollment growth eased to 3.5 percent in 2011 and 1.1 percent in 2012 before rebounding slightly to 1.7 percent this year.
But the growth was not evenly distributed. Enrollment was flat or down at most OUS schools while only two — Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State — posted significant gains.
Taken as a whole, OSU’s enrollment was up by 1,667 students, or about 6.1 percent, from last fall’s headcount of 27,194.
Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for university relations and marketing, noted that increase represents a big share of the state system’s overall net growth.
“Enrollment at Oregon State in Corvallis, including the Ecampus, accounted for 91 percent of the growth in all Oregon universities,” Clark said. “If you add the Cascades campus, it’s almost 100 percent — we’re 14 students shy of the total headcount growth.”
Actually, OIT added 413 students this fall, but those gains were all but offset by losses at other campuses around the state.
Growth is an issue for Oregon State, which is under pressure from some Corvallis residents to soften the impact of growing student numbers on community livability.
OSU president Ed Ray has vowed to cap enrollment on the main campus at 28,000 while continuing to provide educational opportunities, in line with the governor’s goal of ensuring at least 40 percent of Oregon adults earn a bachelor’s degree.
Clark said the university is pursuing a multipronged strategy to meet those competing aims.
“By moderating growth in Corvallis, by expanding OSU-Cascades, by expanding the Ecampus and increasing retention rates, we’re doing our best to serve that mission and not overburden the community,” he said.
Contact reporter Bennett Hall at email@example.com or 541-758-9529.