Ozarks’ Higher Education Officials on Fall Enrollment Figures

Sep 22, 2014

A 9 percent decrease in enrollment at Drury University this fall is attributed largely to fewer Missouri high school graduates.
Credit KSMU Archive

Official 20th day enrollment figures are out for Missouri colleges and universities.  And it’s a mixed bag for local schools compared to fall of 2013.

Last week, we told you that Missouri State University brought in a record number of students this fall.

And Ozarks Technical Community College is reporting its fourth largest enrollment of all time.  But with 14,396 students this fall, that's still a 2.7 percent drop compared to last year. 

Mark Miller is OTC’s director of communications.

“The economy has improved, which is great, but typically for community colleges, when the economy goes down, people seek out new job training, new education, and so enrollments typically go up in a down economy for community colleges," Miller says. "So the good news is the economy is improving, the bad news for us, is that it does mean a slight decrease in enrollment.”

College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout says its numbers are fairly consistent with last year.  C of O’s Elizabeth Hughes says this semester’s enrollment falls within the 1,450 to 1,500 student range that it normally operates under.

“We are a tuition free institution; we have more than 4,000 applications for literally 400 spots, every fall semester.  So we have a regulated enrollment, we’re not tuition driven, so it doesn’t matter either way for us,” said Hughes. 

Drury University, meanwhile, is reporting its fourth straight year of declining enrollment.  Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations, notes that Missouri high school students make up a big part of its enrollment.

“As far as demographics go, traditionally most of Drury’s students come from Missouri, about 80% or so, and if you look at the high school graduation rates over the last four years in Missouri, they’re declining,” said Brothers.

Drury’s undergraduate, college of continuing professional studies and graduate school students total 4,219 this semester, a 9 percent drop from last year.

Requests for enrollment figures from Evangel in Springfield and Missouri Southern State University in Joplin were not immediately provided.