Portland State enrollment is at an all-time high with 20,185 students attending classes this fall, according to the Oregon University System (OUS) official fourth week enrollment report. This is part of a statewide trend in which enrollment at state campuses is the largest in history.
Portland State continues to be the state’s largest campus and is the first ever to exceed 20,000 students.
Engineering majors rose by 21 percent from last year’s fall term; reflecting OUS’s goal to double the number of engineering students by 2007.
According to the OUS 2000-2003 proposed budget, Governor Kitzhaber proposed a $20 million engineering investment package with the intent to increase the production of undergraduate engineering and computer science graduates.
Portland State is among the universities that have received support from this investment program, which may have been a factor in the increased enrollment.
Mike Driscoll, executive dean of the engineering department, said, “We’ve been lucky to have significant investments in our program over the last several years and have taken major strides.”
The OUS claims that a 1999 increase in state funding translated into the significant increases in enrollment.
However, the 2001-03 proposed budget is cut by $96 million, raising the possibility of decreased enrollment.
Driscoll said, “We will stay the course and keep on target regardless of the cutbacks. We will try not to affect students or get in the way of our research agenda.”
He does not believe that enrollment in the engineering programs will be affected, stating that federal, state and private sources will continue to help students with scholarships.
Under the relocation allocation model (RAM), an OUS budget model for funding allocation, Portland State will retain all tuition and other campus-based revenue. This may help the funding cutbacks since tuition has increased by four percent this year and will increase by three percent next year.
In addition, each OUS campus is allocated state funding based on enrollment, which “represents approximately 70 percent of all state funds appropriated to the OUS,” according to the OUS Web site at http://www. ous.org.
However, the additional funding based on enrollment may not be available this year.
Shawna Butler, assistant in the budget division of the OUS, said, “this has been a very unusual year, we don’t even have a final budget proposal.”
She explains that the legislature issued a directive to formulate reduction scenarios, which has resulted in a delay in finalizing the budget proposal.
She said this unstable situation is based on a number of factors, including the economy and the general fund not being as large. She added, “we have been given far less funding than we asked for.”
Even if increases in enrollment brought more funding, Mary Cunningham, student body president, said that it would also increase the money needed to support the additional enrollment.
In the meantime Jay Kenton, associate vice president of finance, is preparing for the cutbacks by saving money now.