by Max Brantley
UCA reports its enrollment numbers today, 12,500, the second-largest in the state. Release on jump.
Arkanas Tech is up 6 percent.
And here are UAF's numbers: 18,647, a record . The university also reports improvement in minority enrollment, with an 8.1 percent increase in black students to 1,023. Out-of-state students account for most of the enrollment gain in the freshman class -- and, unless I miss my guess, scholarships to lure those students helped account for a healthy freshman class ACT of 25.8.
UCA NEWS RELEASE
CONWAY, ARK. -- The University of Central Arkansas today has a student enrollment of over 12,500, the largest in its history. More students continue to enroll today, so a higher official figure is expected by Monday.
"We are pleased with UCA's fall enrollment of over 12,500," said UCA President Lu Hardin. "UCA has added 350 additional parking spaces and we are in the process of taking bids on the new $15 million College of Business building that will provide additional office and classroom space.
"Currently we are comfortably housing 3,800 students, and with our present campus structure, we should easily be able to add another 1,500 students over the next few years. And while we are satisfied with the fall enrollment figure, the telling statistic is UCA's 55 percent graduation rate."
At over 12,500, UCA's student enrollment remains the second largest in Arkansas. UCA also has the second-highest retention and graduation rates of any public university in the state. Only two public universities have a graduation rate above 50 percent: The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, at 59 percent, and UCA, at 55 percent.
This year's increased enrollment continues a five-year surge of growth for UCA. Student enrollment at UCA was 8,500 in 2002, and it soared to 12,300 by 2006 -- an almost 50 percent increase.
Furthermore, UCA intentionally limited the extent of its growth this year to allow its infrastructure to catch up with the dramatic enrollment growth of the last five years. This intention was evident in the implementation several months ago of two policies. The first policy increased the admission requirement formula, which directly resulted in the rejection of 350 applicants who would have been accepted under the old formula. The second policy increased the minimum ACT score required for a full tuition scholarship from 25 to 27.
With infrastructure needs being addressed this year, Hardin will return to his aggressive approach toward increasing student enrollment, projecting UCA's student enrollment next year to reach 13,000.
UCA is comfortably the second-largest university in Arkansas according to the generally accepted comparative measure of student enrollment, known as full-time equivalency (FTE), as compiled by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Although today is the eleventh day of classes at UCA, which is the deadline for Arkansas public colleges and universities to report their student enrollment figures to the state Department of Higher Education, UCA will wait until Monday to submit its official enrollment number, in order to include students who are enrolling today.