UNK Enrollment Down Slightly This Year

KEARNEY – Fall 2020 enrollment at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is recorded just slightly under fall 2019, at 6,225 total students. That’s a decrease of less than 1%.

The student population numbers 44 fewer undergraduates than last year, and 10 fewer graduate students.

The largest impact on enrollment comes from the decrease in international students, attributed to the worldwide impact of the coronavirus and ongoing issues with students obtaining visas. UNK’s international student number dropped from 352 in fall 2019 to 253 in 2020 – a decrease of 28%. Students are from 47 countries – down from 59.

UNK recorded an increase of 68 in its U.S. student population. An increase was also recorded in Nebraska students – 5,244 vs. 5,209. Students are from 48 states. The 2013 academic year is the most recent when UNK had students from all 50 U.S. states.

The largest gains in students were from Kansas (29% increase) and Minnesota (35% increase). Since implementing the Colorado-Kansas Advantage discount in 2018, enrollment from those two states has increased 35.3% – from 170 to 230. Beginning in fall 2021, UNK will offer that same in-state tuition discount to students from every state in the U.S., and will pilot a new tuition program for international students offering a 31% discount.

UNK Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Marketing Kelly Bartling said the challenging recruiting environment, economic factors and international travel environment all contribute to the slight enrollment decrease.

“All challenges considered, the enrollment picture is a positive one,” Bartling said. “We hear from and observe that students and their families identify UNK with the quality experience they are looking for, close to home, and at a tremendous value. We believe the renewed emphasis on affordability to attract new Nebraskans will increase that out-of-state enrollment, and particularly when the international student market opens again, enrollment will be strong.”

As planned, distance-only students increased significantly – 9.2% – and students enrolling in any online course increased 9%. These include a large increase (43%) of undergraduate students enrolling in distance-only programs. UNK has become a leader in distance education through its eCampus, with those programs being mostly master’s. Recent additions of eCampus bachelor’s programs and the Online Networking Experience (O.N.E. Loper) that offered new freshmen a first semester entirely online contributed to those increases during the COVID-19 outbreak.

UNK’s largest programs continue to be health sciences and biology, which saw increases. Several other programs showing increases were cyber systems, music and performing arts, psychology and social work.

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