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  • KU Edwards Campus Reports Highest Enrollment in a Decade, Serving More Current and Future Kansas City Working Professionals

KU Edwards Campus Reports Highest Enrollment in a Decade, Serving More Current and Future Kansas City Working Professionals

Fall 2018 marks another strong semester for enrollment at the KU Edwards Campus.
Story by Hannah Lemon

Kansas City has reason to celebrate as more local professionals add to their skill set at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC). At a time of an interesting crossroads with regional and national university enrollments staying flat or slightly declining and a rising demand for specialized training, the KU Edwards Campus sits in a unique position, celebrating significant enrollment growth.

Fall 2018 enrollment in academic programs administered by KUEC grew by 12.5 percent from a year ago, reaching 12,841 student credit hours. This includes enrollment in KU’s programs offered in the City of Leavenworth, which grew their student credit hours by 47.9 percent in the past year.

This semester’s growth is another data point on an upward trend, continuing from fall 2017 with a 6.2 percent enrollment increase and a 10.4 percent increase this past spring. Combined, enrollment at the KU Edwards Campus grew 21.5 percent in the last two years.

Congruent with workforce demands, KUEC saw significant growth in business, science, engineering, technology and public service fields of study, among others. Almost every segment of KUEC degree and certificate programs reported growth, from graduate to undergraduate, on-campus and online. Online programs grew 105.4 percent during the past year.

Fastest-growing programs include project management, cybersecurity, applied behavioral science, healthcare management, software engineering and management, law and society, homeland security, molecular biosciences and civil engineering.

“Students looking to start and advance careers as well as employers looking to develop their talent are increasingly engaging with us,” said KUEC Vice Chancellor David Cook.

“Our longstanding and newer degree and certificate programs prepare individuals for careers in business, engineering, science, technology, public service and more. These roles are in high demand by the local organizations supporting our communities and businesses driving our economy.”

The Johnson County Education Research Triangle (JCERT) supports a dozen programs at KUEC, including the Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, the Master of Civil Engineering, the Bachelor of Applied Science in Biotechnology and Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Analytics. These and the other JCERT-supported programs increased enrollment by a combined 13.5 percent.

The collaborations with JCERT, KUEC’s longstanding relationship with Johnson County Community College, the recent formalization of the Degree in 3 program and a new agreement with Metropolitan Community College, are a few examples of KUEC’s extensive outreach efforts on both sides of the state line. This fall semester saw a 19 percent growth in Missouri residents enrolled at the KU Edwards Campus, and a 59 percent increase in new students accessing the MetroKC tuition program, which provides local Missouri students tuition rates equivalent to Kansas residents.

This makes a big difference for students such as Sheria Howard, a local social worker, who completed her Master of Social Work degree in May 2018 and is already underway in the Master of Public Administration program. With her three children and husband as her biggest motivations, she said she was initially drawn to the Edwards Campus because of its convenient location, MetroKC Rate and social work program’s reputation.

“Because I’m a nontraditional student, the KU Edwards Campus is a perfect fit,” Howard said. “I get to go to one of the top schools while continuing to work with students in the Kansas City area. I’m excited to combine the MSW with an MPA. Government and social welfare go hand in hand. My favorite thing is seeing how government can affect social change. That’s what really keeps me going.”

Shane Gordon, a bachelor’s of business administration student set to graduate in December 2018, credits his decision to continue his education at KUEC with setting him on the right path for career growth.

“I knew I needed to continue my education to reach my professional goals,” Gordon said. “I did not have great grades and was working through some classes at a community college. The advisor I met with at KUEC made a huge difference in my life. The professors understand a lot of students here are working full-time, and I have felt supported throughout my entire program. I’m now a 4.0 student in the BBA program and excited to advance my career.”

A lot of change at KUEC has led to earning its highest enrollment in a decade – through public private partnerships, new advising models and continued hyper-focus on its mission to provide high-quality education, serving the diverse workforce, economic and community needs of the Kansas City region.  

“We look at what the community needs and do what is best for our students,” Cook said. “We are able to do so by working closely with area employers and close relationships with the community to ensure our offerings line up with market demand, which ultimately benefits students, their families, Kansas City and our region.”