University of Wisconsin Oshkosh enrollment has decreased this semester, but the university is improving the systems used to help retain more students, according to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Aggie Hanni.
Multiple factors have led to the decrease in enrollment from decreased funding to a good job market to Wisconsin’s changing demographics, according to the Oshkosh Examiner.
A UW Systems press release said system-wide enrollment for fall 2019 has decreased 2.6%, but this is after a record number of graduates in 2017-18.
Despite the overall decreases in enrollment, there are many positive enrollment factors that should not be overlooked, Hanni said.
“There is an increasing graduation rate, 58.7%, and it is increasing year after year,” Hanni said.
She said Wisconsin’s education budget has decreased, which is a common trend nationwide.
“It affects the amount of financial aid received and being able to meet money needed [but] not covered by financial aid,” Hanni said. “Institutions don’t know ahead of time how much money they will receive.”
Retaining current students and reducing dropouts is a goal of a new program in the University of Wisconsin System, Hanni said.
“Transferology software on a system level is designed to help be more transparent on how courses are transferred in,” Hanni said.
The No. 1 reason students drop out is mental health concerns, she added.
“We want to systematically identify reasons why students leave for good or temporarily and in response build programs to better assist when these events occur, and mitigate those factors before it reaches a crisis,” Hanni said.
Another way the university is trying to keep students is by creating more flexible class schedules, she said.
“Students love flexibility,” Hanni said, adding that class time of day, how frequently the courses are offered, online components and fully online classes all affect students.
UWO students will not see any noticeable differences on campus because of the decreased enrollment, Hanni said.
“There is actually an increase in student services,” she said. “There hasn’t been a major drop in what students can enroll in and we can focus more on the students who are here.”