Number of full-time students drops in Kansas, could affect businesses

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – There are nearly 2,000 fewer full time students in public colleges and universities in the state than this time last year.

The Kansas Board of Regents released new enrollment numbers this week.

It shows 126,016 full-time students are taking classes at state institutions. That’s down five percent from just five years ago.

“Demographically there are fewer people going to college in general,” said Alan Cobb, Kansas Chamber of Commerce president. 

“The state continues to be relatively flat population growth which is a problem for a lot of reasons, and I think parents and students who are paying the bills are taking a harder look at return on investment,” he said.

Cobb said companies are clamoring for more employees. The needs range from people with PhDs to welders and machinists.

Right now in Kansas, people are switching from a four-year degree to getting a trade skill.

“I think because the job market is so tight, they’ll hire someone who will be able to work with their hands and they will do the training or they’ll work with them to get their certificates at the technical colleges or the community colleges,” Cobb said.

Enrollment at technical colleges has increased by 24 percent in the last five years. While the state universities are down three percent, and community colleges are down more than 11 percent.

Cobb said schools are adapting to the changing numbers.

“Washburn with the affiliation with Washburn Tech, Wichita State and Wichita State Tech, those are two great examples that are really hailed across the country as good ways to tie in the technical education with the four year,” Cobb said.

The numbers do vary with each school. State universities like Pittsburg State and K-State have been struggling with enrollment for the last five years while Fort Hays State has grown 10 in the time. 

You can find the whole list of enrollment numbers here.

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