ASU enrollment has slight decline; lack of visas driving down international enrollment

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 359 views 

Arkansas State University reported a preliminary 11th class day head count of 13,891 students for the Fall 2019 semester. Final fall enrollment numbers will be reported later this month to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. The current number is a 1.2% decline to compared fall enrollment in 2018.

According to Chancellor Kelly Damphousse, college enrollment across the state is being affected by decreasing college-going rates of high school graduates, which dipped below 50% two years ago.

“In addition, A-State had a very small freshman class in Fall 2017 who are our current juniors, and we lost 28% of our Fall 2016 class, who are our current seniors,” Damphousse said. “Combined with our record graduation rates, we are experiencing enrollment lag because of those two classes.”

ASU had declines in first-time students, down 174 to 1,391, and in international student enrollment, down 10.2%. Those trend lines mirrored those at other colleges and universities nationwide.

“The problem is not a lack of interest in our international students,” Damphousse said. “The demand is there, but many of the students we admitted were not able to get student visas.”

ASU continues to be the state’s largest 100% online college program, with 4,113 students at the start of the first fall online semester. ASU experienced continued growth in student programs (4,428), with over 3,400 online graduate students and 1,100 on-campus graduate students.

The university had increases in students at Campus Queretaro, with enrollment there reaching 535 students.

“Not only did we recruit the largest freshman class in A-State CQ history this fall, we retained a remarkable 90% of the Fall 2018 freshmen,” Damphousse said. “That resulted in our population at CQ almost doubling this year.”

The university also saw growth in concurrent high schools students with more than 712 enrolled for the fall.

For the second year in a row, freshman retention topped 75%, compared to 72% as recently as Fall 2017.

“While I am glad to see that the past two years have seen our best retention outcomes, losing nearly a quarter of your freshman class is still not where we need to be,” Damphousse said. “Our new Provost is assessing our first-year retention efforts, seeking where we can wisely invest in student success. Our new Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management has reorganized his division and he has just brought on a new Senior Director of Admissions. I anticipate improvement in recruitment and retention for this coming spring and next fall.”

Arkansas State’s incoming class of 2023 continued the precedent of the last three years with an overall average ACT of 24, well above the state average, with an overall high school GPA near 3.5. The university’s efforts to welcome a diverse student population saw more than 20% of the class of 2023 reporting minority status, up from 16% for the previous year.

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