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KU sees slight enrollment drop in face of 'severe revenue challenges'

University of Kansas
Posted at 1:54 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 14:54:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Kansas saw a slight decline in enrollment this year as it continues to face "unprecedented" financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enrollment at KU fell 2.8% in the fall semester, a decline largely attributed to a decrease in international students and first-time freshmen, according to data from the Kansas Board of Regents. The university has 27,619 students enrolled this year, a decrease of 804 students from the prior year.

International student enrollment was down 18.1% this year, which included a 29.3% decline in freshmen international students.

In a news release, Chancellor Douglas Girod said he was “pleased” with the limited decrease in enrollment but warned that the university faces steep financial challenges that will likely result in further cuts.

“Though we are pleased with this year’s enrollment numbers, KU still faces an unprecedented revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year that will necessitate difficult cost-savings measures in the months ahead,” Girod said in the release. “Moreover, this year’s decline in international students and first-time freshmen — and projected challenges in international recruitment for the foreseeable future — will continue to present severe revenue challenges for years to come.”

Kansas State University saw a similar decline in enrollment this year, according to figures released Thursday.

Fall enrollment across all K-State campuses dropped 4%, while enrollment on the Manhattan campus dropped slightly more at 6.1% overall.

Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management, said the decrease mirrors national and statewide trends related to the pandemic.

“Our 4% drop is much lower than expected and we know the next year will bring strong opportunities for growth when our new Missouri Tuition Match Program, providing in-state tuition to qualified Missouri students, takes effect in fall 2021,” Goos said in a news release.

K-State says it did see a 10.8% jump in online program enrollment for the fall semester.

Meanwhile, Missouri's flagship university says it saw a slight uptick in enrollment over last fall.

The University of Missouri reported a 3.5% increase in enrollment, with 31,105 students enrolled this semester.