Eastern Oregon University reported significant increases in online student headcount and credit hours this fall.
Of the university’s 3,067 students, 1,246 are undergraduates studying off-campus. Online undergraduate student headcount rose 7 percent over fall 2018, and online student credit hours are up by 4.5 percent.
Executive Director of Regional Outreach and Innovation David Vande Pol credited strategic partnerships, data-driven decision-making, and EOU’s first online recruiter with the bump in enrollment. He said this year’s recruitment efforts will move the university closer to its goal of enrolling 5,000 full-time equivalent students online and 2,500 on campus by 2029.
“We’re focused on increasing online enrollment, and reaching the strategic goals laid out in EOU’s strategic plan, ‘The Ascent,'” he said. “Having a dedicated online recruiter responding to inquiries and guiding them through the enrollment process has been a game-changer.”
Headcount is up at EOU overall, rising 3 percent over last year’s fall total. The on-campus population of undergraduates has remained steady, but a slight drop in both student credit hours and full-time equivalency suggests students are taking fewer credits at a time.
Retention rates, which measure the percentage of students who enroll for a second year at the institution, hit their highest point since 2016 at 72 percent. On-campus students persisted at an even higher rate, with 77 percent returning this fall.
Vice President for Student Affairs Lacy Karpilo has overseen a range of retention and recruitment activities over the last couple of years.
“We are dedicated to expanding student access, opportunity and completion at EOU,” Karpilo said. “Our team has been working across disciplines to grow the number of lives impacted by higher education in this region.”
This year’s freshman cohort is slightly larger than last year’s. Of those who are Oregon residents, 87 percent graduated from the state’s rural high schools. As Oregon’s Rural University, EOU provides cultural, educational and economic opportunities for many students in northeast Oregon, southwest Washington and eastern Idaho.
“Serving rural students is part of our institutional mission,” Karpilo said. “Our commitment to these students and their communities relates back to EOU’s designation as Oregon’s Rural University.”