Nearly 20,000 students have enrolled this fall at the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, a record and an increase of more than 3 percent over last year. Full details on the jump, but enrollment remains majority (51 percent) male. Minorities make up about 14 percent of the enrollment -- 5.2 percent black, 3.5 percent Hispanic, 2.4 percent Asian American and an assortment of others.
UPDATE: Hendrix College announces a record enrollment, too -- 1,463. Its second-largest freshman class recorded an average 29 ACT score and includes 62 Governor's Scholars.
UA NEWS RELEASE
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Nearly 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled for the fall semester at the University of Arkansas, a new record for the state’s largest institution of higher education.
The official enrollment of 19,849 students represents a 3.4 percent increase over the previous year – 655 students in all – and is one of the largest increases in recent history for the university.
Enrollment figures collected at the end of the 11th day of classes show total undergraduate enrollment is up 2.7 percent to 15,835 students, and total graduate enrollment is up 7.3 percent to 3,616 students. Enrollment at the School of Law is unchanged at 398 students.
“I am extremely pleased with this year’s enrollment figures,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart, who has set ambitious goals for enrollment growth. “Coming close to the 20,000 level is most significant and is certainly a vote of confidence in our faculty, our quality programs and the overall university. We want to grow our numbers and this is certainly a step in the right direction. Much of the credit for this goes to our college deans and outstanding faculty. They are the ones who create the environment of academic excellence that attracts students, not only from Arkansas but from all over the nation and the world.
“Our admissions staff and our graduate school staff have also done an outstanding job of telling students about the quality of the education available here and recruiting them to the University of Arkansas,” he said. “Suzanne McCray has stepped into the new role of vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions and done an excellent job. I also am most grateful to Karen Hodges, who served last year as the interim director of admissions. Together they made many changes in procedure that led to a record year.”
The overall enrollment increases come despite concerns that the economic recession would hurt higher education enrollment across the country.
“Predicting enrollment numbers is always a daunting task,” said McCray, who serves as vice provost for enrollment management. “What we initially thought might only be a slight increase has turned into significant growth. We are very pleased by these record-breaking numbers.
“Our goal will continue to be to attract students who will thrive on our campus, who will engage academically, giving back energetically to the campus and the community, and graduate prepared for bright futures,” she said.
Approximately 4.3 percent more students chose to stay enrolled in the university this year than in 2008, a testament to the university’s aggressive student retention efforts. There also was a small increase this year in the number of students transferring to the University of Arkansas from other institutions.
In-state students make up 69.5 percent of the student body. Enrollment of out-of-state students increased 9.7 percent from last year, and international student enrollment is up 11.5 percent.
“This growth exemplifies the understanding that students have of the value of a University of Arkansas education,” said Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our overall growth, our increase in student retention and our growth in graduate student enrollment are all good for the state of Arkansas.”
Ethnicity and gender
In early 2009 the federal government mandated new standards for reporting race and ethnicity in higher education institutions, and those standards are now in place at the University of Arkansas. Under the new standards, students who identify themselves as Hispanic, or as Hispanic and another race, are reported as Hispanic. Students who describe themselves as being of more than one race, other than Hispanic, are now categorized as being of two or more races.
This is the first year of this reporting method, so there is no way to compare data from previous years, except to say that fewer students chose not to report their information.
Minority enrollment now makes up 20 percent of the student population at the university. The 1,040 African American students make up the largest minority group, comprising 5.2 percent of the student population. There are 699 Hispanic students (3.5 percent of total enrollment); 486 Asian American students (2.4 percent); 331 American Indian students (1.7 percent); 13 Hawaiian students (less than 0.1 percent); 272 students of two or more races (1.4 percent); and 1,156 students who identify themselves as citizens of a foreign country (5.8 percent). A total of 180 students (0.9 percent) did not provide information.
Men make up 51.4 percent of the student body, 48.6 percent of the students are women. This split is on par with 2008, when men comprised 51 percent of the student body, and women 49 percent.
The state of Arkansas requires institutions of higher education to report enrollment figures for students who are registered on the 11th day of classes. The enrollment numbers are not officially reported to the state until Oct. 17, and there often are minor differences between the 11th day “snapshot” and the final enrollment numbers.