Improving retention key concern as WWU fall quarter begins

As classes start at Western Washington University, increasing retention is top of mind for the university’s administrative team. 

Western is running a $2.2 million deficit this year after a 3% budget cut across the board last spring due to enrollment declines since the pandemic. In 2019, the university had 16,142 students enrolled — in 2022, there were only 14,747. 

However, last year’s freshman class was the biggest in history. Early numbers show promising first-year enrollment this year, near the level of last year’s class of 3,223, Western Communications Director Jonathan Higgins said.  

“That’s all a very encouraging development for us here,” Higgins said. But a big challenge for the university is now making sure those freshmen come back for a second year. Last year, the university reported that only 77.1% of freshman students from fall 2021 returned in fall 2022.