March 15, 1999           

Contact: Bob Bruce, (503) 725-5714
Source: Susan Weeks, Director, Institutional Research, (541) 346-5743

Forecast: More Oregonians Headed to State's Public Universities

EUGENE -- Its been 10 years since Oregon's public universities set records for headcount enrollment and entering freshman registrations by Oregonians. But those records could be challenged next fall.

The state's seven public universities have become the choice of more Oregon high school students. And that may mean 200 more freshmen for the schools in 1999 and 350 more in 2000.

"There's been an attitude shift in the state," Provost John Moseley from the University of Oregon recently told the State Board of Higher Education. "The students want to come to our schools."

It's a change that has university officials revising projections for next fall and beyond.

Susan Weeks, the OUS director of institutional research, estimates that next fall's headcount enrollment at the public universities could total 62,800. That's a headcount of nearly 2,400, or 4 percent, more than fall 1998.

The projection includes the largest Oregon resident freshman participation rate since 1990-91. Some 20.8 percent of June's Oregon high school graduating class are projected to enroll on OUS campuses next fall.

A number of factors have led to a growth forecast. A two-year tuition freeze has made state universities more attractive to Oregonians and has helped reverse enrollment declines in the early1990s caused by Measure 5. Plus, Governor John Kitzhaber and leaders of the Oregon Legislature have said they want to continue the freeze through the 1999-2001 biennium.

Meanwhile, Oregon's public universities have improved retention efforts, added scholarship opportunities, and offered new academic programs to meet market needs at both undergraduate and graduate levels in engineering and education.

In addition, the number of Oregon high school graduates has continued to increase. In 1990-91, the number of Oregon high school graduates bottomed out at 26,202. Since then, the number has increased yearly. More than 32,000 are projected to graduate this spring, including home schooled students. And the trend shows a steady increase approaching 20 percent over the next 10 years.

Also fewer Oregon graduates are leaving the state for college. According to OUS studies, some 13 percent of the 1995 Oregon high school graduating class left Oregon to begin higher education. From the 1997 class that number amounted to only 10 percent.

Officials see the growing demand for higher education in state as a positive sign for Oregon and its future.


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