New enrollment figures show upward diversity trend continues at campus

Buoyed by a 3 percent increase in minority and international students enrollment, Penn State New Kensington has become more culturally diverse, according to Penn State’s annual snapshot count taken at the end of the sixth week of fall semester classes.

The new international students improved the campus total by nearly 60 percent over last year’s total of six. The nine countries represented on campus are China, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Tanzania and Uganda. The University has seen a 4.3 percent increase in the number of students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

“Our minority and international students now make up 11 percent of our campus enrollments,” said Patty Brady, director of enrollment management at the campus. “We are pleased that our international recruitment efforts have resulted in students from such a wide variety of countries and welcome the diversity they bring to the campus.”

The students have a myriad of reasons for leaving their homelands to attend the Penn State campus in Upper Burrell, Pa. The quality of the education is at the top of their lists.

Samantha Muhhuku, of Uganda, is a sophomore in the biomedical engineering technology program. She gravitated toward the New Kensington campus because of the academic excellence of the BET program, one of only three accredited programs in the country. Biomedical technicians operate, maintain, troubleshoot and repair medical equipment.

“I needed to get out of my comfort zone and try out something new, build up a strong résumé and have a feel of what life is like outside Uganda,” said Muhhuku, whose sister Sandra is a freshman at the campus. “Besides, Penn State New Kensington is one of the best colleges in the profession.”

After two years studying computer science at Thakur College of Science and Commerce in his native India, Ashutosh Pandey wanted to take his studies to the next level, which would include courses to help him start a career."

“I was a part of a program which allows students at Thakur to transfer to one of eight Penn State campuses to complete their bachelor’s degrees,” said Pandey, a senior in the information sciences and technology program. “I chose Penn State New Kensington based on what I saw on their website, its location and discussions with friends. The professors here are just excellent. They are well qualified and have the entire knowledge about what they are teaching. I made a good choice.”

In addition to the number of minorities and internationals on campus, the number of veterans at the campus continues to be significant as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars wind down and more military personnel fulfill their service obligations and return to civilian status.

Penn State’s Oct. 16 report shows the total enrollment at its 24 campuses has remained steady from 2012 to 2013. The University saw a slight increase in students to 98,097, up from last year’s final total of 96,562.

While the University is experiencing a decline in the number of high school graduates in portions of the state, at the same time Penn State is seeing higher demand for online programs as adult learners seek to advance their education and improve their economic outlook by returning to the classroom.

Commonwealth Campus student enrollment is 31,105, a 1.4 percent decline from 2012, or a decrease of 454 students across the 19 Commonwealth Campuses. Contributing factors include falling numbers of high school graduates in Pennsylvania, especially in the west, a trend that has long been predicted by demographers and one that is expected to continue into the future.

"While the demand for associate degrees has declined steadily over the last decade, the incoming baccalaureate class at the Commonwealth Campuses is up by almost 350 students this year," said Rob Pangborn, vice president and dean for undergraduate education.

The campus’ nine bachelor’s degree programs are a major draw for incoming students. Eighty-nine percent  of the 180 freshmen seek four-year degrees, with engineering being the most popular major. The remaining 11 percent are on track for an associate degree, with radiological sciences the top choice. The 2013 freshman class represents 58 different high schools; 35 percent of the class earned a campus scholarship, receiving $2,000 per award.

New Kensington’s enrollment mirrors the decline in enrollment of all of the state institutions in western Pennsylvania. The campus experienced a dip of 3.6 percent, from 715 students to 680.

“Much of this loss is due to the declining high school demographics and the economy,” Brady said. “Over the past decade, we have seen ups and downs in our enrollment figures. Fluctuations are a part of the cycle.”

For a list of enrollments by campus, visit http://news.psu.edu/photo/291610/2013/10/16/enrollment-fall-semester-2013.

For a virtual tour of the campus, visit http://www.youvisit.com/colleges.php?college=80469&vhost=1&inst=62745.

For more on admissions at Penn State New Kensington, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Admissions/default.htm.

Contacts: 

Bill Woodard

Work Phone: 
724-334-6049
Home Phone: 
724-335-3502
Cell Phone: 
724-594-8421

Alumni and Public Relations Specialist

Last Updated October 30, 2013