WWU Sets Total Enrollment Record; Overall & First-Year Enrollment for Students of Color is the Highest Ever

For fall quarter, Western Washington University’s total enrollment set another record, and both overall and first-year (freshman) enrollment of students of color is the highest in the history of the university.

“Western is proud to again welcome our largest and most diverse first-year class.  Advancing inclusive student success is central to our mission, and that means ensuring every student we admit has the support they need to achieve their potential during their time at Western, and after graduation,” said Western President Sabah Randhawa.

Total fall enrollment at Western for fall quarter is 16,153 compared to last year’s total enrollment of 16,121, the first times university enrollment has been above 16,000 students.

Overall fall enrollment for students of color is 26.9 percent; that is an increase from 26 percent for fall 2018 and 25.6 percent for fall 2017.  

Among 2019 fall first-year students, 30.8 percent are students of color. Hispanic or Latinx students are the fastest growing group within the student body, followed by the growth in the number of Black or African American students. The fastest growing group among first-year students are Black or African American students.

Inclusive excellence is a core theme of Western’s new Strategic Plan. A student body that reflects the diversity of the state of Washington is an important part of that goal. On Oct. 9, the Western community celebrated the grand opening of the Multicultural Center, new home of the Ethnic Student Center, AS Student Advocacy and Identity Resource Centers and Multicultural Student Services.

Western welcomed 3,116 first-year students fall quarter and 1,156 new undergraduate transfer students. For fall 2018, there were 3,147 first-year and 1,165 transfer students. This fall, 29 percent of first-year and 42.2 percent of transfer students are first generation students, or students who are the first from their families to attend college.

Western also has 714 graduate students for fall quarter.

The number of students in campus residence halls is 3,963 – this total is despite the temporary loss of approximately 137 beds due to demolition of Highland Hall and beginning construction of the new 400-bed residence hall. 

More than 87 percent of Western students are residents of the state of Washington.  Leading areas of residence for in-state Western students are King, Snohomish and Whatcom counties – in that order – with strong representation also from Pierce, Skagit, Clark, Spokane, and Island counties, as well as Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. 

Most transfer students come directly from a state of Washington community college, led by Whatcom, Everett, Skagit, Olympic and Bellevue colleges.

There are students from 45 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam. Other than Washington, the states with the largest representation are California, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. 

International students come to Western from around the globe, with the largest contingents from Canada, China, Japan, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

Western Washington University is the highest-ranking public, master’s-granting university in the Pacific Northwest, according to the 2020 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, which also named WWU as one of the best public schools in the West, a region stretching from Texas to the Pacific, for veterans.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine also ranked Western among the 100 best values in public higher education. Reviews.org lists Bellingham, home of Western’s main campus, as the best college town in the state, and WWU is third in a Money Magazine ranking of "Colleges and Universities for People Who Love the Great Outdoors."