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Oregon Tech enrollment breaks all-time record, breaches 5,000 student mark, expands access to Oregonians

Nov 03, 2016
A 9.3% growth in headcount over last year takes Oregon Tech to an all-time record of 5,232 students

Oregon Institute of Technology’s (Oregon Tech’s) efforts to meet student demand for STEM education and polytechnic degrees has led to a 9.3% percent growth in headcount over last year, a total of 446 additional students. This fall’s increase takes Oregon Tech to an all-time record of 5,232 students, up from 4,786 in fall 2015. Oregon Tech enrollment has increased more than 65% over the last ten years as the university has expanded its footprint in Oregon, including growth at its Wilsonville and Online locations, new degree offerings in Klamath Falls and other sites, and the growing value and recognition of applied, relevant education approaches.

Oregon Tech Interim President Jay Kenton said, “Our unique polytechnic approach and our graduates’ high return on investment are getting noticed by students, and by employers. Companies need STEM graduates in Oregon Tech’s high demand degree fields, including engineering, technology, and healthcare. New degrees at Oregon Tech, like Population Health Management and Renewable Energy Engineering, are breaking new ground and solving today’s urgent issues. These types of degrees are attracting both Oregonians and other students who want to help shape new fields and contribute to their communities’ success. Our 90% success rate of graduates being employed or seeking advanced degrees within six months of leaving us, and our high average starting salaries of about $55k, illustrate the value proposition for students of an Oregon Tech education.”

Two areas of robust growth this fall included Oregon Tech’s Online programs, showing student growth exceeding 14%, and reflecting increases in all degree areas, including a new online Masters in Allied Health. College credit programs offered to high school students, which increased 46% over last year, are enriching the STEM pipeline in Oregon as students gain preparation for the rigor of college coursework. Oregon Tech’s Wilsonville campus continues to meet Portland-metro area demand, showing a more modest increase of 1.6 percent than seen in the last four years, following the opening of the campus in 2012. Both credit hours and full-time equivalent growth in Wilsonville showed an increase of 2.2%, with students -- the majority who are working adults -- taking larger credit loads than seen in the past. Klamath Falls overall growth was relatively flat, but is showing increases in new freshmen as well as more students choosing to live on campus.

Steve Neiheisel, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Oregon Tech said, “We’re really pleased to see healthy growth in new freshmen this fall, which is up 11.5%. This is reflective of Oregon Tech’s unique hands-on education approach that engages students deeply in their learning, and how to apply it to real world experiences. We have also invested in building the STEM pipeline in Oregon, supporting college preparation for today’s diverse high school students by offering affordable college courses and supporting the regional STEM Hubs. These pre-college offerings are critical in getting our young people into and through college and into the workplace, meeting both their personal and state needs for a highly skilled workforce.

“Online programs and the other types of local options we offer meet students where they are at: place-bound, working, and juggling busy family lives, which is becoming more of the norm for college students statewide and nationally,” added Neiheisel. “Oregon Tech is serving localized needs for today’s students who need flexibility in when, how and how long to complete a degree.”

Oregon Tech is more diverse geographically then it has ever been, with students from 47 states and 24 countries in the student body who are choosing to earn their degree from one of the campuses locations. Across the board, resident and non-resident student enrollment grew 9.1% and 9.4%, respectively. International students, while still a modest number at Oregon Tech, increased by more than 18% with the highest numbers coming from Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Just over half of Oregon Tech’s students attend part-time, with some students transferring in from community colleges or other 4-year universities and generally taking longer to complete a degree than the traditional student of prior decades.

Contributing to Oregon Tech’s enrollment growth, retention efforts reached their second highest all time level in the past eight years, reaching 75.3% for first-time, full time freshmen, and exceeding the 5-year average of 73.4%. The combination of larger freshmen classes and improved retention is expected to have a positive, compounding effect for multiple years out. Diversity also increased over last year, with almost 29 percent students of color now enrolled at Oregon Tech. Women are also a growing percentage of Oregon Tech’s population, reaching 48.4% this fall, up from 46.5% last fall.

“We’re really pleased with the strong returning-student numbers and continued healthy retention,” said Dr. Erin Foley, Vice President for Students Affairs. “Recent investments in retention are already paying dividends for students, and this will only increase. Our strong federal TRIO program, support for veterans, an innovative texting program, intense faculty support, and free tutoring services with wonderful peer-tutors have built a package of supports that enable students to move steadily forward towards their degree.”

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The Higher Education Coordinating Commission will be releasing its official enrollment results for Oregon Tech and the other six public universities in mid-November.


About Oregon Tech

Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology is the premier public polytechnic university in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides degree programs in engineering and health technologies, management, communication, and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through hands-on learning. Oregon Tech has a full-service, residential campus in Klamath Falls, an urban, industry-focused campus in Wilsonville, an Online campus, and extension sites serving specific program needs. Visit www.oit.edu to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology. 

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