West Virginia University continues to make progress toward the goal of building enrollment and increasing the academic profile of the student body, according to the recently released 2007 update of the Universitys 2010 Plan and data reported to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) earlier this year.

Figures show that the University is just shy of achieving the goal of 30,000 students combined at the WVU main campus and Potomac State College of WVU . The official enrollment for the fall of 2007 is 29,721an increase of approximately 4 percent from the previous year and just 279 students short of the 2010 goal.

The enrollment figures reflect a 3.7 percent increase at WVU s main campus with 28,113 students and an 8.3 percent increase at Potomac State College with 1,608 students. The numbers include undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled at each campus and in off-campus and online courses.

Much of the increase at WVU has resulted from a 31 percent increase in off-campus education programs such as elementary and secondary education, social work, communications studies, reading programs and multidisciplinary studies.

The enrollment growth at the University is in accordance with the strategic efforts outlined in the 2010 Plan,Provost Gerald Lang said.The efforts of the University to attract and graduate high quality students can be seen in the rising attendance figures and increases in the academic profile.

According to data reported to HEPC , the academic profile of the first-year class continues to improve. Due to increases in the academic requirements for admission of nonresidents, the average ACT and cumulative grade-point averages for the first-year class have reached recent highs. SAT scores have also been steadily increasing over the past few years.

The University also has a record-setting 29 new National Merit finalists in attendance, bringing the total to 60 and surpassing a previous record high of 20 set in 2004. There are now 83 National Merit scholars on the WVU campus.

We have seen an increase in the number of National Merit finalists due in part to two paid study abroad opportunities, service-learning opportunities and scholarship funding,Lang said.WVU should be ranked among the top universities and colleges in the country in terms of the number of first-year National Merit finalists. The number is significant when viewed as a percentage of our total enrollment.

WVU s enrollment has climbed despite decreases in the number of high school graduates in West Virginiaa trend which has negatively impacted college enrollment throughout the state. According to HEPC , statewide college enrollment figures have only increased by 1.1 percent, with many institutions experiencing declines in enrollment.

Officials at WVU have tried to offset this trend by dedicating some resources to recruitment of out-of-state students.

It is imperative that the University continue to focus efforts on attracting the brightest students to our academic programs,said Brenda Thompson, assistant vice president for enrollment management.This includes efforts to increase the percentage of out-of-state students as we are experiencing a decrease within the pool of students graduating from high school in West Virginia. Although no qualified in-state applicant will be turned away, we must continue to pull academically talented students from around the country to support the growth of our academic programs.

WVU continues to represent an opportunity for many in-state students to acquire a higher education as demonstrated by the number of first-generation students. Approximately 14 percent of freshman students are the first from their family to attend collegeand of those 645 students, more than 60 percent are in-state residents.

Since WVU is the states flagship institution, we will continue to attract higher ability students from within the state,Thompson said.This includes first-generation students who are now provided better opportunities for higher education through programs like the PROMISE Scholarship.

The number of students enrolling in masters and doctoral programs at WVU also continues to climb, reaching 5,595an increase of nearly 10 percent from the previous year and proportionately higher than the undergraduate growth. The University has placed importance on increasing the number of graduate-level students to build the number graduate teaching assistants and research dollars coming into the University.

To view the 2010 Plan and annual updates, visithttp://www.wvu.edu/~2010plan/.