U of A Sets New Records For Enrollment, Retention and Graduation
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Preliminary enrollment figures at the University of Arkansas show a record enrollment of 27,778 students, an increase of 220 students from the fall of 2017. The university also set records for retention and graduation rates, undergraduate enrollment, minority enrollment, academic quality of the freshman class and the number of Arkansans in the incoming class.
"Sustainable, quality enrollment growth is our goal at the U of A," said Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz. "Our enrollment team, led by Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment; Kim Needy, the graduate school dean; and Don Judges, vice provost for distance education, have done an outstanding job of recruiting a top- notch, diverse group of students from around the country and around the world — but especially students from Arkansas."
The freshman class includes 2,507 Arkansans, a record number of in-state students in the incoming fall class. The combined academic credentials of the new degree-seeking freshmen are also at a record level, with average ACT scores at 26.3 and average high school grade point averages at 3.72. Total freshman enrollment is 5,019 students.
"The U of A has made a concerted effort to bring qualified students to campus and provide them with support and services to help them succeed," said Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. "Those efforts are beginning to make a difference, as you can tell from our increasing graduation and retention rates."
Students who enrolled at the University of Arkansas in fall 2012 have posted a six-year graduation rate of 65.5 percent, a new record.
The one-year retention rate of 83.8 percent is also a record.
There are 23,386 undergraduates enrolled, a 1.5 percent increase and a new record for the university.
Graduate school enrollment is down slightly at 4,024 students. School of Law enrollment is up 4.2 percent.
The university has never been more diverse, setting new records for minority enrollment in both the actual number of students, 5,538, as well as the percentage of the total number of students, at 19.9 percent. Hispanic and African American students make up the two largest groups.
The percentage of first-generation college students in the incoming class decreased slightly to 20.4 percent from 20.7 percent in the fall of 2017. More than 29 percent of Arkansans in the freshman class are eligible for Pell Grants while the percentage of Pell-eligible students in the entire incoming class is lower, at 19.8 percent.
These numbers are based on the 11th day enrollment "snapshot" required by the Department of Higher Education, and taken this year on Sept. 5. They reflect some positive trends aligned with efforts to increase access to higher education, student success and innovations in teaching and learning established two years ago in the U of A's academic strategic plan.
These areas are getting more attention on the national level as well, as seen in the new methodology used by U.S. News and World Report in its college rankings released today. That survey was based on enrollment and retention data from the 2011 freshman class. The U of A is ranked 78th among national public universities.
"Like many of our peer institutions, our ranking shifted a bit with the new methodology used by U.S. News," Steinmetz said. "We believe, however, that this new methodology is a positive development in that it measures areas we identified as key priorities during development of our academic strategic plan two years ago. I would like to make it clear that we are not chasing rankings. We are focused on our mission of teaching, research and outreach to Arkansas, which begins with student success. We are pleased that our 2019 enrollment numbers show progress in many of these areas, including retention, minority enrollment and access compared to this latest U.S. News report that reflects data from the 2011 freshman class. We have added new programs designed to improve student outcomes that aren't reflected in this particular ranking, but we still have a lot of work to do.
"Despite the drop, we are headed in the right direction," he added. "That's our focus and I fully expect that we will recover the lost ground when we include newer data from our current students in their subsequent cohorts."
Examples of recently added programs and initiatives designed to improve student success include Advance Arkansas scholarships, the ASAP Bridge Program and an increased focus on health and wellness as a contributing factor to student success.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
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