By Jane Dail
September 15, 2014
East Carolina University released its preliminary census numbers for the fall semester, and while undergraduate enrollment and transfers have increased, graduate enrollment continues to decrease.
Associate Provost for Enrollment Services John Fletcher said the numbers are released after the 10th day of classes each semester but are not final until they are reviewed by the college’s general administration.
Fletcher said the initial numbers showed 27,511 students enrolled at the university this fall, 624 more than last year.
He said this is the fourth-largest enrollment total in the school’s history.
Fletcher said undergraduate enrollment accounts for 22,252 students — 744 more than last year. Freshmen made up 4,226 of those, the third-largest freshman class in the university’s history.
“We’re really excited; that’s our largest undergraduate enrollment in the university’s history,” Fletcher said.
Despite the uptick in undergraduates, graduate student enrollment dropped by 162 to 4,740. Fletcher said ECU is not the only university experiencing such a decrease.
“We’ve seen it pretty much across the state,” he said. “Graduate enrollment has been somewhat in decline. We’re following that same trend.”
Transfer enrollment set another school record, he said. Fall enrollees included 1,779 transfer students, the largest group in ECU’s history.
Fletcher said the rise can be attributed to the university’s efforts to make the transfer process easier for prospective students, Officials hope to continue to improve the process, he said.
“We’ve always recognized the value that our transfer students bring to campus, but I think in the new world of higher education in North Carolina, transfers are even more valuable,” Fletcher said.
He said transfer numbers across the state are increasing, along with enrollment at two-year institutions.
An update to a comprehensive articulation agreement, which guaranteed transferability of general education courses from community colleges in the state to the University of North Carolina system last year may have helped transfer numbers increase, Fletcher said.
“We would certainly want to grow our transfer enrollment,” he said. “CAA certainly can help with the ability of students to bring more of their hours with them if they transfer to the four-year schools.”
Fletcher said ECU typically has the third-largest student population in state, with N.C. State University first and UNC-Chapel Hill second. He said because of the large graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill — and the statewide trend of reduced graduate student enrollment — he is curious to see what effect it will have on enrollment.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how that will come out this year,” he said. “… We’re really more about trying to do the right things for the right reasons. Not to be necessarily the biggest, but perhaps we can do what we can to assist the students of the state in their desire to seek higher education.”
Fletcher said more comprehensive numbers and breakdowns by colleges and departments likely will be available by the next ECU Board of Trustees meeting. He said the preliminary numbers were higher than he expected, which he viewed as a positive.
“I would take that to mean the demand for ECU education remains high, that we continue to be a strong choice for students from North Carolina and from out of state,” he said.