More than ever, serving students is a big priority at Wisconsin’s La Crosse colleges and universities.

university-recruitmentAs public funding for higher education falls, recruitment is becoming more and more important for Western Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. And with a new strategic vision for the campus, leaders at Viterbo University are looking to reach out to an increasingly important Catholic demographic — Hispanic students.

UW-L was able to meet a recruitment goal of 2,025 new students this past fall, but total enrollment was down 150, resulting in a shortfall of $1.2 million for the fiscal year. Enrollment goals are a tool administrators have used in recent years to offset state budget cuts.

A sharp decline in international student enrollment — almost 25 percent to 245 students — contributed to the overall decline. As a result, UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow said the university has doubled its recruiting efforts and will be hiring an additional recruiter this year to help bring in more students from overseas.

“We need to reverse these declines in international student enrollment,” Gow said. “It’s part of a broader conversation about attracting more of these students.”

Enrollment at Western Technical College was up again this year by 3 percent after rising 1 percent in 2014. As part of the college’s Vision 2020 program of new construction and modernization of the campus, President Lee Rasch has also outlined a goal of having an enrollment of more than 10,000 students by 2020. This year will be a big one for the college as it works to bring those students in.

Implementing a trimester system two years ago has helped boost the number of students attending the college. Rasch said there’s a lot of work going on to offer new online courses and programs to help entice more students to make Western their first choice for higher learning. The college is also looking at collaboration on high school academies and industry partnerships.

“With the combination of these things, I predict we will be ahead on enrollment,” Rasch said.

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