UNIVERSITY PARK – Proven to be one of America’s most popular universities by its four continuous years of record applications, Penn State’s latest enrollment figures show moderate growth for a University-wide total of 94,301 students. This figure includes all undergraduate, graduate, online, law and medical students.
Based on an annual “snapshot” taken at the end of the sixth week of fall semester classes, Penn State’s fall 2009 enrollment number is up 1,688 students over last year, with almost two-thirds of that growth occurring online through the World Campus. According to the report, the World Campus, established a decade ago, has a 2009 enrollment of 7,138 students worldwide who are pursuing their studies fully online. This does not include students enrolled at a Penn State campus who also may enroll in selected online courses offered through the World Campus. Penn State’s online offerings give students flexibility and additional options to obtain a degree, and all indications are that online education will continue to grow.
A total of 43,998 students are enrolled and in residence at University Park, an increase of 726 students over fall 2008. However, first-year enrollments at University Park are slightly lower this year by design, to compensate for the larger entering classes of recent years and the larger enrollments at the campuses. About half of the students at campuses change location to University Park after two years.
Overall enrollments at University Park in recent years have inched upward, and the University and community have accommodated this modest growth well. Future enrollments likely will remain in the current zone, according to University officials, reflecting the high demand for a Penn State education and the need to provide access both to students who are beginning their studies at University Park and those who start at Commonwealth Campuses and subsequently move to University Park to complete their chosen majors.
“An educated workforce is what will best help the Commonwealth recover from the current recession and holds the most promise for economic growth in the future,” said President Graham Spanier. “Even as the high school population in Pennsylvania has begun to decline, Penn State has experienced continuous years of record-high applications, indicating a serious need and demand for Penn State to open its doors wider.
“This year, we have more 109,000 applications to Penn State — an all-time record.”
Spanier said the University also has enrolled more students at its Commonwealth campuses, for a total of 33,540 at the 19 undergraduate locations across the state.
“Penn State is not only a vital source for an educated population but also a tremendous contributor to Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Rob Pangborn, vice provost and dean for Undergraduate Education. Pangborn points to an independent report released earlier this year, showing Penn State students contribute $932 million directly to the state’s economy through their purchases.
Contributing to the increased student enrollment is a rise in the number of international students. Since 2006, there has been a 28 percent increase in the total number of international students at Penn State. This growth has occurred primarily at the undergraduate level, where first-year international enrollments have more than doubled over that period, going from 356 in 2006 to 778 in 2009, according to Pangborn. This fall, there are 4,442 international students on Penn State’s campuses across the state, with most in residence at University Park.
Also of particular note in the report is the 10 percent increase in enrollment of minority students, from 11,752 in 2008 to 12,920 this fall.