Cutler Hall outside

Cutler Hall, home of the office of the president of Ohio University. File photo.

Ohio University’s spring semester enrollment is down again this year compared to the same time last year, continuing a recent, mild downward trend of enrollment at the university.

OU’s total enrollment number, across all of its campuses, was 32,525 this year as of the 15th day of OU’s spring semester, compared with 33,914 students overall as of that same day in spring semester 2018. That’s down also from 34,587 students on the same day in spring semester 2017.

The Athens campus’ total undergraduate, graduate and medical student population is also down, from 20,446 students in spring 2018 to 19,594 students in spring 2019.

OU in recent years has enjoyed a significant boost in enrollment, having record-breaking enrollment totals each fall semester for multiple years leading up to fall semester 2017, when the university saw its first enrollment decline in some time. As of the 15th day of fall semester 2017, OU had 35,877 students enrolled total, compared to 36,441 total enrolled as of the same time in fall semester 2016. In fall semester 2018, OU’s total enrollment was down from those totals at 34,443.

The university is also continuing to see a decrease in enrollment on its regional campuses, down from 5,851 students in spring semester 2018 to 5,405 students as of this spring semester (OU had 6,281 regional campus students in spring semester 2017).

Meanwhile, OU’s eLearning (online classes) total is down this spring semester as well, from 7,617 students last spring semester to 7,526 this semester.

OU spokesperson Carly Leatherwood painted a positive picture of OU’s enrollment in a statement provided last Friday.

“Ohio University continues to experience record enrollment rates on several fronts, although down slightly in overall enrollments from the past couple of years, which is something that we see trending not just in Ohio but within the national landscape as there are fewer students graduating high school,” she wrote in an email. “OHIO continues to work to ensure access to a high-quality education, as evidenced by our recent announcement regarding OHIO Online, which has allowed the institution to expand offerings through a dynamic, interactive learning environment. Overall, we are pleased to report that spring 2019 enrollment figures are consistent with overall numbers we experienced in the fall of 2018.”

The NEWS reported last fall semester that while OU’s total enrollment was down by about 1,400 students compared to fall semester 2017, the university’s freshman class in fall 2018 had the university’s highest-ever percentage of students from diverse backgrounds, with more than a quarter of them being first-generation students.

The “OHIO Online” initiative that Leatherwood mentioned is a new web page at that “prominently features the University’s online undergraduate and graduate offerings, which have grown to comprise more than 46 percent of the institution’s overall enrollment when including students that attend one or more of their courses online,” according to an article on OU’s Compass website.

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