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Portland State University enacts hiring freeze amid falling enrollment

Enrollment declined by 4.5% this year from 2018-2019, and a further decline is expected in coming years.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — In a letter sent to students and staff Thursday, Portland State University Interim President Stephen Percy announced the school will immediately enact a hiring freeze and will spend $12 million of its reserve funding.

Percy said the school's enrollment fell more than 4.5 percent this academic year from 2018-2019, and is expected to continue declining for the next couple of years.

The school will also spend up to $12 million of its strategic budget reserves in the next fiscal year.

The hiring freeze will include all vacant education and general fund positions that "are not in the final stages of the hiring process," while some positions will be exempt on a case-by-case basis.

"We continue to explore all mechanisms for reducing expenditures and costs. However, with over 80 percent of the institution’s budget in personnel, our most effective immediate action is to freeze vacant positions and fill them only after careful consideration of how they meet the strategic priorities of the university and are affordable within a reduced budget," Percy wrote.

Here's their enrollment over the past few years:

  • Fall 2016: 28,407
  • Fall 2017: 27,670
  • Fall 2018: 27,285
  • Fall 2019: 26,017

In the fall of 2017, the school reported double-digit decreases in international student enrollment, and at the time, school officials said it was due to rhetoric from President Trump regarding immigration policies and travel bans.

Friday, PSU officials said international student enrollment isn't down just at PSU - it's a problem nationwide due to political climate, increased competition from other countries and changes by other countries to lessen the number of students they sponsor to the US.

The school will be holding a budgeting forum on Tuesday, March 10 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Smith Memorial Student Union. 

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