Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University saw particular success this fall in attracting freshmen coming direct from high school. This academic year, the university saw increases in first time freshman (up 14.4 percent.)  International students are up 13.45 percent from 2021, but haven’t fully recovered to their pre-pandemic level. However, despite the positive news with freshmen and international students, enrollments at the university dropped slightly (down 3.5 percent.) 

         Washburn Tech reported a dip in the student population after multiple years of record increases.  This year’s class fell by 86 students for a 7.0 percent overall decrease. Combined, the two campuses saw a 4.1 percent decrease in overall enrollment.

         Overall enrollment at the law school was flat after elimination of the cadre of one-time students from Florida completing their final year.  Washburn took in those students as part of the Third Year Anywhere™ program after their law school closed unexpectedly.

         “We look forward to continued success in attracting students direct from high school,” said Jerry Farley, president of Washburn University.  “We think our recent ranking by U.S. News and World Report as the top regional public university in Kansas will help with that recruiting effort.”

        He also noted that the publication listed Washburn students as having among the lowest amount of student debt on graduation.

        “We offer an outstanding education for our students and we are working hard to make sure students – particularly those in this region – know what we have to offer.” he said.  “We also hope we are seeing the end of the effects of the pandemic which led some students to postpone their college education.”

         Interestingly, Farley noted that COVID also had the affect of increasing the size of the last graduating class as a number of students took extra time to complete their programs.  That skewed the numbers somewhat when comparing the size of the graduating class with the number of incoming students.  

         “Washburn does face some challenges in the coming years however, along with all of the other colleges and universities in Kansas,” he said.  “High school graduating classes are trending smaller – a trend that will continue for the next several years.  That means more competition for students.  In addition, the job market is particularly strong right now so some students who might otherwise be continuing their education are taking jobs instead.”

         Farley also said that, while the university saw an increase in international students this year, the university hasn’t made up the sudden drop in overseas enrollments which came with the pandemic.

          “Our normal contingent of students from China all but disappeared during the pandemic and they are only now starting to trickle back in,” he said.  “We have real work to do to rebuild that important segment of our student body.”

           He also noted, most of the new jobs available require education past high school so those same students should show up in the enrollment figures as they look to advance. 

          Washburn Tech’s numbers also slipped slightly as a result of the same trends.  Like the university campus, some students at Washburn Tech took somewhat longer to finish their programs resulting in a larger-than-normal graduating class last year.  However, the demand for specialized training continues to grow so Farley said he expects Washburn Tech’s numbers to resume their steady growth next year.


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