November 8, 2002

Contact: Jeanie-Marie Price, 503-725-3773
Bob Kieran, 541-346-5758

Universities Continue to Set Enrollment Records

Eugene, Ore. - For the third-consecutive year, Oregon's public universities have set a new record for fall campus enrollment.

Officials of the Oregon University System (OUS) said Thursday that total headcount enrollment for 2002 fall term classes at the state's seven public universities is 78,071. That represents an increase of 4,188 from a year ago when the previous fall enrollment record of 73,883 was set.

"We continue to grow," said Bob Kieran, director of Institutional Research Services for OUS. "The fourth-week numbers are very close to our projections, about 5.7% above last year."

This marks the fourth year of strong growth, exceeding 20 percent for that period. That's roughly equivalent to adding a major university to the system over two biennia. This comes despite the recent cuts in higher education due to the poor economy.

"High unemployment encourages students to advance their education," says Kieran. "In the past, many students could find high-paying jobs with certificates and two-year degrees. Now those students are continuing on to obtain a bachelor's degree. And for the first time in Oregon's history, many of those unemployed already possess a bachelor's degree. Many are returning to graduate school while they ride out the economic downturn."

Other factors contributing to the increased OUS enrollment include an increase in the number of high-school graduates and a higher percentage choosing to go to college, better recruitment of the best and brightest of those students, more students transferring from community colleges and an increase in graduate students.

Over 10,300 first-time freshmen are included in the totals, the largest entering freshman class ever.

The number also reflects several all-time campus enrollment levels. Portland State University continues to be the state's largest campus with 21,841 attending classes this fall, an 8.2% increase over 2001,. Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University the University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University also set new campus-level headcount marks.

Counted within the new statewide record are 313 students at the Oregon State University Cascades Campus in Bend, Oregon's first branch campus. Term enrollments reflect partnerships with Eastern Oregon University and the University of Oregon, but do not count nearly an equal number of students who take classes through partnerships with Oregon Health & Sciences University, Linfield College and various distance-education providers.

Following is a statistical summary of the official fourth-week enrollment total for all OUS campuses:

Oregon University System Headcount Enrollment
Fall 2002, Fourth Week Totals

  2002 2001 Increase %
Eastern Oregon University 3,452 2,978 474 15.9%
Oregon Institute of Technology 3,139 3,088 51 1.7%
Oregon State University - Corvallis 18,774 18,032 742 4.1%
Oregon State University - Cascades 313 245 68 27.8%
Portland State University 21,841 20,185 1,656 8.2%
Southern Oregon University 5,478 5,469 9 0.2%
University of Oregon 20,044 19,008 1,036 5.5%
Western Oregon University 5,030 4,878 152 3.1%
Total 78,071 73,883 4,188 5.7%


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