Higher ed’s future is bright

In August, the University of Washington’s Bothell branch campus turned 25 years old, and this week announced its largest enrollment ever — a fine status for the school that some actually proposed closing in 2007, in part because it hadn’t reached its “growth limits” yet, so a UW branch campus could be built in Snohomish County instead. (UW Bothell is just over the line in King County.) What a difference seven years makes — not just for UW Bothell, but for the prospect of another state university branch campus to serve the central and northern parts of Snohomish County.

Now the largest of five university branch campuses in the state, UW Bothell has 4,588 full-time equivalent students for the 2014-15 school year — up from 4,216 students last year.

Enrollment numbers show the school is serving the needs of state and county residents:

Ninety percent of the students are from in-state.

Fifty-one percent of the incoming first-year students are first-generation college students; a third are from Snohomish County.

Thirty-five percent of the total students are from Snohomish County; 55 percent are from King County.

The top feeder high schools include Henry M. Jackson, Bothell, Mountlake Terrace and Kamiak.

The top feeder institutions of the school’s 747 transfer students include: Edmonds Community College, Everett Community College, Bellevue College, Cascadia College and North Seattle College.

In other good news, Washington State University has entered the Snohomish County educational picture by taking over the operation of the University Center at EvCC (which offers degrees through WSU, Western, Central and Eastern Washington universities, Hope International University, UW Bothell, and The Evergreen State College.)

WSU started a mechanical engineering degree at the center in 2012, and this fall launched degree programs in electrical engineering, communications and hospitality-business management. WSU is asking the Legislature for $4.5 million to start more degree programs, including software engineering, sustainable food systems and aviation maintenance. (If WSU doesn’t get the $61 million it’s asking to construct a building to house the University Center this year, hopefully they can move forward with the degrees, and continue to run the center out of Gray Wolf Hall on EvCC’s campus.)

As it expands its offerings, WSU will build the foundation for a much-needed and longed-for state university branch campus in Snohomish County, giving residents close access to our state’s two biggest universities, plus the University Center programs. Creating more opportunities for higher education has long been the goal in Snohomish County, even when supporters have disagreed on exactly how to get there. But now the way is clear. And the fact that thriving UW Bothell has met its growth limits is just further argument for getting WSU Everett started now.

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