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KU enrollment falls slightly as university achieves all-time highs in key measures of student success

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

LAWRENCE — After five consecutive years of growth, enrollment at the University of Kansas fell slightly this year, according to annual data released today by the Kansas Board of Regents.

KU has 28,423 students enrolled across all campuses, a decrease of 87 students (0.3 percent) from last year. The slight decrease can largely be attributed to a decline in graduate students, which offset growth in the Lawrence undergraduate population.

In addition, today’s data show KU has achieved all-time highs in the following metrics:

  • One-year retention rate – 86.2 percent (third consecutive all-time high)
  • Four-year graduation rate – 49.8 percent (seventh all-time high in eight years)
  • Six-year graduation rate – 66.5 percent (second consecutive all-time high)
  • Entering freshman class GPA – 3.64 (tied) (fourth consecutive all-time high)
  • Minority population – 22 percent (19th consecutive all-time high)

View the full KU data report online.

“Given the national context of declining college enrollment, along with regional population trends, we are pleased to have held the line on enrollment for the past seven years, and we view this as validation of our efforts to recruit and retain top students,” Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said. “Of course, more meaningful than enrollment are institutional metrics related to retention, graduation, talent and diversity, and this year’s record-setting performance in these areas demonstrates that KU is successfully enrolling talented students who go on to graduate in a timely manner.”

KU’s record-setting rates are the result of deliberate efforts to elevate the university’s reputation, recruit top students and provide them the support they need to succeed. For example, since 2011, KU has revamped its financial aid offerings, pursued a national recruitment model, launched a new curriculum, implemented new admissions standards, strengthened academic advising and enhanced the student experience both inside and outside the classroom. These strategies have been developed in coordination with the Board of Regents and in consultation with industry leaders, policymakers, students and families.

“The success we are having today is the result of bold, strategic decisions we made in past years,” Girod said. “While this year’s record-setting metrics are worthy of celebration, we must not get complacent given the long-term enrollment challenges facing higher education. We must continue to find new ways to recruit and retain top scholars, and we must recognize the reality that it will be harder than ever to do this. Looking ahead, we will have an exciting opportunity to enhance student recruitment and retention through our university strategic planning process, which will begin later this semester. We look forward to this process as a way to enhance our work as a leading research institution, an engine of economic growth for Kansas and a proud member of the Association of American Universities.”

Other items of note include the following:

  • Minority first-time freshmen headcount is 998 – an 8 percent increase from last year – and 24.2 percent of the entering freshman class, which is the highest on record.
  • The number of first-time freshmen enrolled in the School of Engineering is at an all-time high (644) and comprises 15.6 percent of the freshman class.
  • Enrollment at the Edwards Campus increased 4 percent (as measured by student credit hours) and is up 24.5 percent over the past three years.
  • KU Medical Center’s enrollment is at an all-time high.

The university is working to bring in next year’s class of Jayhawks. Prospective students are encouraged to attend Crimson and Blue Day – an open-house-style event for high school students and their families – on Friday, Oct. 18. Additionally, prospective students should submit their admissions application by Nov. 1 to be automatically considered for scholarships.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: After using headcount as the unit of measure for many years, the Board of Regents last year transitioned to a full-time equivalency metric. KU continues to use the headcount metric for the convenience of media, policymakers and others who are tracking KU’s year-over-year enrollment progress and want to make an apples-to-apples comparison with previous years’ data.)


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