Monday, September 23, 2002

Ky. universities, colleges see enrollment increase




By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Enrollment is up at nearly every Kentucky public college and university this fall, perhaps marking a new direction for the state that has always ranked among the lowest in the nation for education.

KY. STUDENTS
   Preliminary fall 2002 enrollment figures from the Council on Postsecondary Education for Kentucky colleges and universities and the percentage increase (decrease) from last year.
    Northern Kentucky University ... 13,700 ... 9.2
   Western Kentucky University ... 17,770 ... 7.2
   Lexington Community College ... 8,300 ... 6.5
   Community and Technical Colleges ... 66,370 ... 5.1
   University of Kentucky ... 25,890 ... 4.4
   Murray State University ... 10,003 ... 3.7
   Eastern Kentucky University ... 15,375 ... 3.1
   Morehead State University ... 9,303 ... 3.1
   University of Louisville ... 21,000 ... 3.0
   Kentucky State University ... 2,253 ... (2.6)
        While college-going rates often rise during times of economic uncertainty, higher-education officials believe this may actually indicate a shift in attitude and an appreciation for the fact that without a diploma or at least an educational effort, people may be doomed to the backwater of the economy.

        This fall, it has meant bulging campuses, crowded classrooms, scrambling instructors and fretting administrators.

        “I'm proud of the numbers, but certainly challenged to keep everything in perspective,” said Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell.

        Western had the largest enrollment increase among the state's four-year universities in figures released Sunday by the Council on Postsecondary Education.

        Western reported 17,770 students, 1,191 more than last year and 2,888 more than in 1998, the first school year after the General Assembly approved an overhaul of higher education.

        But Western's growth pales in comparison to that of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which had the most dramatic change after the 1997 legislation. It is the amalgamation of the former University of Kentucky community college system and the once-disparate collection of post-secondary technical schools.

        Enrollment at KCTCS this fall is 66,370, which is 3,250 more than last school year and dramatically increased from enrollment of 45,529 four years ago.

        Across the system, enrollment is 189,965 this year, up 8,838 from last year and 31,515 more than four years ago.

        Even more encouraging educationally is that the increase has come as some institutions have raised admission standards.

        Among the institutions only Eastern Kentucky University and Kentucky State University did not grow in the last four years. Only KSU did not grow from last year to this.
       



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