Wittenberg University had the second highest percentage of student enrollment growth this semester in the region compared to last year as the University of Dayton and Wright State University saw declines.
Officials at UD and WSU said a trend in students graduating faster in the fall semester and decrease enrollment of international students has played a part in the decrease in numbers for the spring semester.
New president Mike Frandsen said that increasing enrollment is important for Wittenberg. The goal is to have 2,000 students attend the school.
“Making sure we have a good enrollment plan that is going to allow us to hit that next goal,” Frandsen said. “That is going to allow us to retain the students that we have and build on that momentum.”
UD saw the largest loss of students this semester in the region with a drop of around 350 students, or 3.2 percent, according to UD admission officials. Wright State’s enrollment declined by around 300 students at its main campus, or 1.9 percent.
Spring enrollment is slowly becoming more affected by fall graduation rates, said Jason Reinoehl, UD vice president for enrollment management. The number of students receiving their degrees during fall commencement has slowly increased over the years and ticked up slightly from 649 in 2015 to 680 in 2016, according to UD.
“Students are graduating faster,”Reinoehl said.”It’s an interesting phenomenon but its a good thing.”
A decline in the number of international students is having an impact on UD and WSU, officials said.
Foreign students who would have started in the spring may have decided to go elsewhere following the election of President Donald Trump, Reinoehl said. Wright State provost Tom Sudkamp has also warned about a looming “Trump effect” on international enrollment.
Officials at both universities said that politics and scholarship funds in other countries can also determine whether an international student can come to the U.S.
Like UD, Wright State’s decline in fall enrollment led to a lower spring enrollment, said spokesperson Seth Bauguess.
Wright State’s international enrollment in the fall declined by more than 400 students. Most of the students WSU lost were from Saudi Arabia because of a scholarship that is no longer offered there, officials have said.
“Much of that drop is attributable to the carry over effect we experienced in the international student decline from fall enrollment,” Spokesman Seath Bauguess said.
While UD and WSU have seen declines, Ohio State University and Miami University added more students between spring 2016 and spring 2017 than any other state institutions.
Ohio State added 683 students, growing its spring enrollment by about 1.2 percent from 2016. Miami’s main campus grew by 414 students or 2.2 percent from last year, according to the university.
Miami’s enrollment increase is credited to the record setting sizes of incoming freshmen classes at the school, according to Susan Schaurer, assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of admissions. In fall 2015, Miami set a record with 3,806 incoming freshmen and fall semester 2016 had the second highest increase with 3,798, Schaurer said.
A retention rate upwards of 90 percent has helped to boost this spring’s enrollment, Schaurer said.
“The demand has certainly increased for a Miami education,” Schaurer said. “We’re really excited about that.”
Schaurer expects Miami’s enrollment success to continue as the university has already received more than 30,000 applications for the fall 2017 semester, setting yet another record.
While Miami and OSU added the most students, Cedarville University had the highest percent growth in spring enrollment. Cedarville added 124 students to grow enrollment by 3.4 percent.
The University of Cincinnati’s spring enrollment grew by the slimmest margin, 0.4 percent, or 191 students.
Sinclair Community College was able to avoid the enrollment pitfall Wright State and UD suffered this spring. The college added 341 students or grewe by 1.9 percent, said spokesman Adam Murka.
The growth wasn’t related to any one factor, Murka said, but was due to increases in online enrollment, returning students, an increase in traditional students and use of the college credit plus system that Murka said has “exploded” in recent years.
While Murka said improvements in the economy can sometimes cause a decline in enrollment at community colleges, Sinclair hasn’t felt that effect yet.
“That tells me we’re doing the right things and we know what people need,” Murka said. “We feel pretty good about the strategic direction of the college.”