Oregon State University enrollment on its main campus in Corvallis continues to remain relatively flat, while the overall student population of the university remains the highest in the state system.
According to enrollment figures released Thursday by the university, there are 24,203 students on the Corvallis campus this fall, down 87 students (or 0.4%) from the fall of 2018. That class consisted of 24,290 students and was 1.8% smaller than that of of the 2017-18 school year.
The 24,203 Corvallis campus total is the lowest since the fall of 2014-15.
The university traditional releases its enrollment figures four to six weeks into the fall term to allow for the student population to settle a bit.
OSU’s enrollment has been all but flat in the past seven years, with increases between 0.4% and 0.9% in the years from 2014-15 through 2017-18 preceding the slight dips of the past two falls.
Prior to that the enrollment business was booming, with consecutive increases of 8%, 4%, 4% and 4% from 2010-11 through 2013-14.
Jon Boeckenstedt, OSU’s new vice provost for enrollment management, said Thursday that he expected a similar enrollment report for next fall.
OSU enrollment is a sensitive issue in Corvallis, with many residents concerned about the influx of students into the near-campus neighborhoods, with attendant livability concerns of parties, noise, trash, parking and traffic.
The presence of 24,000 students also plays a huge role in city housing issues, with the development — and pricing structure — of units for the student rental market making it harder for the housing supply to satisfy the needs of other consumers.
The issue promises to remain in the forefront because the second phase of the Domain Corvallis project on Witham Hill will add 444 more bedrooms in the fall, with another 675 bedrooms opening at the same time at the Washington Yards development just east of the campus.
In addition, the university hopes to build a new dorm for 290 upper division/graduate students near the corner of Ninth Street and Monroe Avenue. However, the development sector swap that the project requires. is being challenged by residents and is headed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
The $64 million question seems to be whether six consecutive years of flat OSU enrollment growth plus the new developments will ease the tight vacancy rate or lead to lower rents.
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Overall enrollment, university officials report, is at 32,774 students, up 763 from last year. OSU remains the largest university in the state system,
That total of nearly 33,000 is being fueled by a 13.7% increase in OSU’s online Ecampus and a 4.1 increase at the university’s Bend campus, which now has 1,311 students. The online component is at 7,467 students. There is some overlap among the total, online and Bend numbers, university officials said.
“True to its mission for the past 151 years, Oregon State provides access to an excellent higher education for all Oregonians,” said OSU President Ed Ray in a statement accompanying the release of the enrollment numbers. “We are teaching more students each year — where they are located and how and when they want to learn — whether it is at our resident campuses in Corvallis or at OSU-Cascades in Bend, or through online learning in their communities around the state, nation or worldwide.
“I am very proud that OSU continues to be a destination of choice for undergraduate students throughout Oregon and a welcoming place for more graduate students, more students of color, more international students and more veterans each year.”
Here's a look at other key figures in the enrollment picture:
• 71.4% of Corvallis campus students are Oregonians. The figure rises to 85.3% at Bend. All 36 Oregon counties are represented.
• There are 8,327 students of color, an increase of 470 students, or 6%. Students of color make up 26% of OSU’s overall enrollment.
• 1,253 are veterans, a 7.8% increase over last year.
• There are 3,492 international students from more than 100 countries, an increase of 82 students from fall 2018. International enrollees represent 11% of the university’s enrollment.
• 22.8% of Corvallis students and 29.8% at Bend are first-generation college students.
• Engineering remains the most popular discipline at Oregon State. The College of Engineering has 9,347 undergraduate and graduate students. The next largest programs are the College of Liberal Arts, 4,378 students; the College of Business, 4,039; the College of Science, 3,714; the College of Agricultural Sciences, 2,697; and the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, 2,515.