After some years of decline, enrollment this fall at Eastern Kentucky University this year is holding steady. Over 16-thousand students now attend classes at EKU. Vice President Elizabeth Wachtel says declines are not necessarily bad. Wachtel says the school might now be at its optimal size.
“What should our enrollment size be, both at the undergraduate level and the graduate level. And I think that’s a conversation that the university needs to have. Some universities, like Eastern, have actually said we want to be this size,” said Wachtel.
Kentucky wants to double the number of students who attend college, but educators say such growth could be beyond their reach. Wachtel says the number of college age students in the Commonwealth is shrinking.
“One of the real challenges for our traditional age students is the fact that the number of 18 year olds demographically has declined and will reach a bottom actually next year,” added Wachtel.
Officials at Eastern Kentucky University are investigating ways to build their connection to students who attend community college. By collaborating with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, EKU Vice President Elizabeth Wachtel hopes to grow enrollment.
"We’re looking at some ways for both, like a dual admission, so that when they’re admitted to KCTCS, they’re also admitted to Eastern and can have connections with Eastern even while they’re completing their usually general education courses,” explained Wachtel.
Meanwhile, two of Eastern’s top contenders saw record breaking enrollment this year. Over 29-thousand students attend the University of Kentucky, while enrollment at Morehead State University exceeded 11-thousand students.