The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh this fall welcomed a class of first-year students to its Oshkosh campus 6.5% larger than that of a year ago, according to preliminary enrollment estimates released this week.
That increase in newcomers is the third largest increase among the 13 UW System schools relative to enrollment.
“We are energized by the strong first-year class of students who confidently join us this fall. They feel safe at UW Oshkosh, have enjoyed a few weeks of unprecedented welcome experiences and are on their way toward pursuing degrees,” said UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt.
On the Oshkosh campus, the class of first-year students marks the second largest increase from the previous year in a decade.
Total fall enrollment for the 150th year of UWO is estimated to be 15,209, down less than 1% from 2020. Leavitt acknowledged that the enrollment decline reflects the University’s projections, given the impact of COVID-19 and other trends.
Aggie Hanni, the University’s assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management, attributed the uptick in first-year students to a number of factors, including a System-wide redesign of the application process, the temporary waiving of application fees, test-optional admissions and increased outreach efforts. UWO also offered in-person campus tours and orientation sessions throughout the summer.
Among the UW System schools, only UW-Superior and UW-Madison saw more new students this fall relative to total enrollment.
The 1% drop in enrollment at UWO mirrored that of the full UW System, which reported an estimate of 163,708 students total among the 13 universities—also down 1% compared to 2020.
System Interim President Tommy Thompson noted that according to estimates first-year and new transfer registrations have increased by 4%, including at eight of 13 university main campuses, but also dropped by 4% among other undergraduates.
“These preliminary estimates reflect a number of factors,” Thompson said. “It’s clear that students continue to view the UW System as a tremendous value and their ticket to a brighter future. New freshman and transfer students are up, thanks to our added recruitment tools coupled with the extraordinary work done by admissions and registrations staff.”
Overall enrollment increased at three universities while dropping at 10 universities, according to the estimates.
“The last 18 months have been incredibility challenging, not only for our UW schools, but also at colleges of all types throughout the nation,” Thompson said. “With plentiful jobs and COVID-19 creating challenges, retaining students has been especially difficult for all of higher education.”
The final enrollment figures to be made public later this year may still differ from the preliminary estimates released today.