A decade-long streak of enrollment growth continues for Salina Area Technical College this fall, with the college again posting new records.
According to data collected for the Kansas Board of Regents on the 20th day of fall classes, Salina Tech has 857 students, up five from the 852 in the fall of 2021.
On a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis, enrollment grew from 462 to 465 last fall. FTEs are calculated by dividing the total number of credit hours students are enrolled in and dividing by 15.
In both headcount and FTEs, growth was roughly 0.6 percent, significantly lower than the double-digit growth Salina Tech had seen in most recent years.
Over the past five years, Salina Tech’s headcount has grown by 39.3 percent, and FTE’s have grown by 36 percent – once again making Salina Tech the fastest-growing college in Kansas. Looking back 10 years, the number of students enrolled at Salina Tech has nearly doubled, from 431 to 857.
Salina Tech President Greg Nichols said he was pleased with the numbers, but added that enrollment counts are just one measure.
“For the past several years, we’ve been the fastest growing college in Kansas,” Nichols said. “And that’s definitely something to be proud of. But we’re also proud of the fact that we’re consistently at or near the top statewide in graduation rates, job placement and overall student success.”
Earlier this month, the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked Salina Tech 15th out of 815 two-year colleges across the United States for its graduation rate.
In many cases, Nichols said, Salina Tech is experiencing constraints on further growth, including classroom and lab space, and finding qualified faculty.
He noted that the current Associate Degree Nursing class is the largest in the college’s history, and that Salina Tech has newly-hired faculty teaching Welding and Automotive Technology to high school students in Lincoln, Kansas, in a partnership with Lincoln High School and funded by a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation.
Additionally, a classroom and some staff office space is being re-purposed for the new Dental Hygiene program launched this fall.
“We are trying to make the best use we can of the space we have, but we are at or near capacity in many programs,” Nichols said. “Our future growth could depend on facilities and finding qualified faculty to teach.”
Across Kansas, the state universities experienced an average decline of 1.5 percent. The state’s community colleges averaged a 1 percent decline, while the six technical colleges averaged a 6 percent increase in enrollment.
“What these numbers show, and have shown for the past several years, is that more people are coming to understand what a great investment technical education can be,” Nichols said.