Enrollment numbers at colleges and universities across the United States have been declining for the past six years, and that includes Western Kentucky University, which now faces a potential $6,000,000 revenue loss for the upcoming school year.
According to documents released by the WKU Board of Regents Finance Committee, the university has projected further decline in student enrollment for the 2018-2019 academic year.
"The numbers aren't going to be drastically down, but the mix keeps changing," said WKU Media Relations Director Bob Skipper. "That mix is what causes the budgetary concerns as we're trying to put the budget together for [2018-2019]."
The biggest loss in enrollment has come through less and less international students coming to the Hill, something Skipper attributes to an increase in competition with foreign institutions to keep hold of their students, as well as the political issues going on across the globe today. Skipper added that the university has developed a plan to counteract this rising trend.
"We've made some changes in enrollment by combining our enrollment office with student affairs to kind of put together a start-to-finish shop for students once they express an interest in the university. From the time they're recruited, they're admitted, they become students and until they graduate," he said.
Despite the lower enrollment numbers being projected, Skipper says that factor is already being accounted for with the structure of the soon-to-be-finalized budget plan for 2018-2019.
"We're still going to be in the 20,000-range for students, but that's already figured into the budget," Skipper said. "There won't be a scrambling at the end of the year to try and make up some kind of deficit."
And at the end of the day, Western still feels like they have a lot to offer any prospective students considering the Hill for their academic career.
"The student-centered, applied research experience that you can get here will well prepare you for your future," said Skipper. "We just need to make sure that we are affordable, that we are accessible, and that everyone here at the university is fixed on making sure that students have the best chance they can to be successful."
Skipper added that the school won't know any definitive numbers about the decline enrollment until the beginning of the academic year in August.