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Oregon University System Fall Enrollment Increase Signals a Turn-around

Contact: Di Saunders – Office, 503-725-5714; Cell, 503-219-6869
Source: Bob Kieran, Director of Institutional Research, OUS: 541-346-5758

Record freshmen and overall system enrollment reached

PORTLAND, November 8, 2007 – The Oregon University System announced today that a record high enrollment of 82,249 students was reached for fall 2007. While the enrollment increase is still moderate at 1.5% over last fall, almost 1,250 more students were enrolled at the 4th week of the fall term, compared with an increase of only 114 students last year. The increase this fall is the largest in the OUS since the 1.9% increase seen in 2003, and represents the largest entering freshman class in its history.

“We’re optimistic that these enrollment increases signal a turnaround in college participation rates in Oregon,” said George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the Oregon University System. “The investment made in higher education this summer by the Governor and Legislature sent a message of hope and opportunity to Oregon students. Higher education now has additional resources that will make college more affordable, and make support services more available so students can stay in school and obtain a degree,” added Pernsteiner. “In recent years, in parallel with Oregon’s economic downturn, enrollment flattened at our universities when state support decreased. While the 2007-09 investment was a great start, higher education needs a consistent state commitment to increase the number of highly skilled graduates who fuel and enrich Oregon’s workforce and economy.”

The systemwide enrollment total includes 67,403 undergraduates – an increase of 2.7% or almost 1,800 students over last year – and 14,846 graduate students – a decrease of 3.5% or 535 students from 2006. Graduate student decreases are attributed in part to a 50% decrease in non-admitted students – those not pursuing a degree but just taking classes – as well as a stronger economy and fewer people returning to college for new skills and/or retraining. However, there were also decreases in degree-seeking graduate students. “We do have some concerns about the decreases seen in doctoral and masters students,” said Pernsteiner. “Having fewer of these graduates and the intellectual capital they bring to business and industry in Oregon can have an impact on our economy.”

Enrollment of Oregon resident freshmen increased by 2.1%, compared to a decline of 1.2% in 2006. Across the System, the number of newly admitted freshmen – both resident and nonresident – increased by 6.2% (compared to 3.0% last year), and newly admitted undergraduate transfer students increased by 0.8%, bringing an overall increase of 4.0% in new undergraduates. Much of this increase was due to the 18.9% increase in nonresident freshmen.

“Enrollment this fall exceeded our earlier projections,” said Bob Kieran, OUS director of institutional research. “As the new state funding begins to show returns, with campuses better equipped to recruit and retain students, we believe we’ll see higher enrollment increases next year. As the Oregon Opportunity Grant increases also make college more affordable for low- and moderate-income students and families, this will also spur enrollment increases in the OUS.” Opportunity Grant funding was doubled in the last legislative session, which will help thousands more students and more middle-income families with greater amounts of aid than Oregon has seen in the past. “With more aid for some students, coupled with more on-campus support services, we may also see students having to work and borrow less, which in the long run may positively affect their ability to stay in college and finish their degrees,” added Kieran.

Long-term enrollment trends show a 5-year increase of 5.3% in OUS enrollment, and 10-year increase of 28.3%. For fall 2007, Oregon Institute of Technology saw the largest percent increase of any of the seven OUS institutions at 5.1% (161 new students). Western Oregon University and Portland State University saw increases at 3% (148 students) and 2.9%, respectively (715 students). Oregon State University saw a higher than system average increase of 2% (391 students). The OSU-Cascades branch campus in Bend, Eastern Oregon University and the University of Oregon all had relatively stable enrollment at 0.4%, 0.2% and -0.1%, respectively. Southern Oregon University saw a moderate decrease of 3.3% (-166 students) compared to 2006.

“The university system, the campuses, and the state must continue to work hard to ensure that we see more in-state students entering higher education, and address the root causes when we see declines,” said Pernsteiner. “That we are seeing so many out-of-state students continuing to come to Oregon is a signal that our institutions have high quality reputations that extend beyond our borders. But we must ensure that we’re building a more highly educated citizenry in Oregon so that across the state we can sustain strong, stable communities through a highly skilled and flexible local workforce.”

Fall 2007 Headcount Enrollment 4th Week Totals

Oregon University System


Fall 2007

Fall 2006

# Change Fall ’06 to Fall ‘07

% Change Fall ’06 to Fall ‘07

Eastern Oregon University





Oregon Institute of Technology





Oregon State University - Corvallis





Oregon State University - Cascades





Portland State University





Southern Oregon University





University of Oregon





Western Oregon University





OUS System Total











Graduates (includes Professional*)





* Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy and Law                            Source:  OUS Institutional Research Services


For a fact sheet providing additional data, go to “Enrollment Watch” on the OUS website at: http://www.ous.edu/factreport/enroll/current.php

Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu

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