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Oregon State University sees record fall enrollment

Oregon State University is in Corvallis, Oregon.
Bryan M. Vance
Oregon State University is in Corvallis, Oregon.

That includes a 14% increase in students enrolled in its online ‘Ecampus’

Oregon’s biggest university continues to get bigger.

Oregon State University announced Tuesday it has a record number of students enrolled this fall. That means it continues to be the state’s largest university, with 34,108 students enrolled this fall — a more than 2% increase from last year.

The record enrollment includes students at OSU’s main campus in Corvallis, as well as other locations throughout Oregon, and its online Ecampus program.

“Oregon State University is fully energized and enjoying significant momentum with students back on our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, and engaged in learning across the world in our top-ranked online degree programs,” Becky Johnson, OSU’s interim president, said in a statement.

OSU saw a 5.2% increase in students of color this fall compared to last year and a 1.3% increase in transfer students.

Oregon State’s online Ecampus program has seen a substantial increase — 14% this fall on top of an 18% increase last year. OSU has grown by more than 8,500 students over the past decade because of the Ecampus program, according to the university.

“I think that’s the wave of the future,” Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost of enrollment management at OSU, said.

Boeckenstedt said OSU has been building out its online campus, way before the pandemic, and it’s paid off.

“It’s been a ground-up, grassroots effort started at Oregon State University,” he said. “It’s not a bolted-on program that we’ve purchased from a for-profit institution and made it look like it’s Oregon State. It’s really our faculty and our administration doing our real programs, and I think students understand that, and I think they appreciate it.”

Boeckenstedt said although the Ecampus attracts students from all over the country and outside of the U.S., Oregon still remains OSU’s “primary market.”

Oregon students make up more than 70% of OSU’s degree-seeking undergraduates at its main Corvallis campus and more than 80% of total enrollment at its Cascades campus in Bend.

Still, Boeckenstedt said, the university is increasing outreach to out-of-state students in states such as California.

“Our non-resident students in the freshman class this year was about 40% higher than last year,” he said. “So, while resident student enrollment was up, much of the increase in Oregon State’s fall enrollment was from students who came from outside of Oregon.”

OSU has seen slight declines in some student populations. According to the university, the university saw an 11% decrease in international students since last fall and a very slight decrease in first-generation undergraduate students.

Boeckenstedt said the university is keeping in mind that many of its newly enrolled in-person students are coming out of mainly online learning this past year.

“That’s an important thing for us as educators to think about and recognize and accommodate, that students have been through a lot,” he said. “We want to make sure that when they come to Oregon State they hit the ground running, and if they can’t hit the ground running, that we get them up to speed as quickly as possible.”

Not all of Oregon’s public universities have released enrollment numbers for this fall term yet. But, along with OSU’s record, the University of Oregon earlier this fall reported a record number of freshman students.

This comes after many Oregon colleges and universities saw falling enrollment last fall during a height of the pandemic.

Oregon State and the Oregon Institute of Technology were the only two public universities in the state last fall to see enrollment growth a year ago, according to data from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.