PSU enrollment dominates state system

While Portland State expected to continue as the state’s biggest university this year, enrollment at the other two major Oregon universities stagnated while PSU showed vigorous growth.

Fourth-week figures from the Oregon University System shows Portland State with 23,117 students, an increase of 5.8 percent over last year and a five-year increase of one-third, or 33.6 percent. There are 1,276 more students than last fall. For the past five years, Portland State has registered all-time highs in enrollment.

The OUS figures demonstrate that Portland State is where the growth resides. Ten years ago, PSU enrollment totaled 16,296. The university’s headcount has increased almost 42 percent in a decade. By contrast, the increase for the OUS as a whole has been 28.6 percent.

Enrollment at PSU is predicted to climb toward 24,250 by the end of fall term due to courses not yet counted. Overall, PSU enrollment could reach 35,000 by 2012 if the administration is able to count on a straight-line projection in area population, facilities and enrollments. However, Kathi Kecheson, director of institutional research and planning, said mathematical models show a more modest but still vigorous 30,000 by that date.

“The figure of 35,000 is a goal set by the president if they add the programs they want to add,” Kecheson said. “They have set a goal to accommodate the demand in the Portland area and the population increase they expect.”

The university system offered a number of reasons for the statewide stagnation. Bob Kieran, director of institutional research for OUS, said, “In the past we have seen tuition increases cause a slow down in student enrollment, and that is likely a primary cause for the smaller increase this year.” OUS said the average tuition increase in the system is 11.5 percent.

University of Oregon showed no increase over last year, dropping 10 students for a total of 20,034. The headcount at OSU at Corvallis showed an increase of 200 students, for a total of 18,874, a relatively static 1.1 percent increase.