Harrisburg University of Science and Technology said today that 420 degree-seeking students are scheduled to start classes, up from 366 last year — but below the 500 that roughly represents its break-even point.
Eric Darr, HU’s president, said two new online degree programs will open in a couple weeks and could add another 20 or 30 students to the total.
“We’re up substantially from where we were a year ago, we continue to grow. Those are all positive steps in the right direction,” Darr said. “I’m pleased. Do I wish that we had more? Absolutely.”
Ultimately, Darr said, HU does need to get to the break-even point, and while he previously said he hoped this would be the year that happened, that wish was optimistic. Continuing growth at the same pace would put the university in range of that goal next year, he said, and HU continues to implement changes to its targeting process, with predictive modeling to come this year.
Darr also noted that both the goal and those figures don’t include nondegree students, of which HU has “a lot.”
The freshman class this year numbers about 120 — down from 151 last year. However, Darr says, coupled with the rising total number of degree-seeking students, that underscores that HU’s student retention is improving.
“Fall to fall, it’s about 71 percent,” Darr said. “For our population of students, that’s really pretty good. We hung onto a lot.”
About 220 of the students are moving into university housing along Market Street in Harrisburg today. That number is also up from about 184 last year.