OGDEN, Utah – For the fifth year in a row, Weber State University’s enrollment has set a new milestone, exceeding 26,000 students for the first time.
As of the third week of fall semester, when the state institutions report their enrollment figures to the Utah System of Higher Education, WSU had a total headcount of 26,681 students. That’s an increase of 1,197 students, or 4.7 percent, in comparison with fall semester 2011. Since fall 2007, WSU has experienced an enrollment increase of 46 percent.
“In terms of total headcount, our enrollment increase this fall is the largest of any public institution in the state,” said Provost Michael Vaughan.
The university’s full-time equivalent (FTE) figures for fall semester are up 3.69 percent compared to the same time last year. WSU’s budget-related FTE rose by 412, a 2.98 percent increase. Full-time equivalent is calculated by taking the total number of credit hours for all students and dividing by 15, the average number of credit hours for a full-time student.
University officials attribute the enrollment growth to multiple factors, most notably continued growth in online enrollment, increases in the number of Hispanic students, and new on-campus housing options that attract more out of state students.
WSU’s online enrollment saw a 7.8 percent jump this fall.
“We have strong online bachelor's degree programs that provide students many ways to participate, and feature faculty who clearly and thoroughly assess students’ classwork,” Vaughan said. “Recent national publications have reported our online bachelor's programs rank high in student engagement and assessment.”
Vaughan noted that for the second consecutive year, the university has seen strong growth in Hispanic student enrollment. Fall 2012 numbers show an 8 percent increase in the number of Hispanic students attending Weber State, compared to a year ago. That builds on a 27 percent increase reported in Fall 2011.
Vaughan attributes this sustained growth to several university initiatives, including the Dream Weber program, which provides financial support for students who qualify for the federal Pell Grant program, and have a household income below $27,000. He also credited outreach efforts like the Upward Bound and Student to Student programs, which are designed to attract and recruit underserved populations to campus.
“Growing national awareness of our programs, coupled with new on-campus housing options may account for the greater number of out of state students enrolled this fall,” Vaughan said.
U.S. News & World Report has again ranked WSU as one of the best public master’s universities in the west. That same publication highlighted WSU’s graduate programs in both business and nursing.
The gains in enrollment coincide with increased demand for on-campus housing. The university’s residence halls are accommodating 857 students this fall, the fourth year in a row housing has achieved full occupancy. Stewart-Wasatch Hall, the second hall in WSU’s new Wildcat Village complex, opened in August.
“Our ability to accommodate this level of growth is a testament to the commitment of our faculty and staff,” said President Ann Millner. “They continue to provide our students exceptional learning opportunities and personalized attention.”
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