[UTA Magazine]


Population explosion
Fall enrollment increase tops all four-year universities in Texas

UTA became the fastest-growing four-year university in the state last fall with a gain of 2,641 students.

large group of students

Some of UTA’s 23,821 students walk to their next class. Enrollment reached a 10-year high last fall.

The 12.5 percent increase over fall 2001 encompassed virtually all student groups, including new graduate students (33 percent), new undergraduates (15.4 percent) and new undergraduate transfers (10.3 percent).

Statewide enrollment at all colleges and universities was up 5.9 percent.

“We have become more of a university of choice and not just convenience for students.”
– Academic Affairs Vice President Dana Dunn

The fall enrollment of 23,821 is the highest since fall 1992 and marks the 11th consecutive semester, including summer sessions, that UTA has shown an increase. The fall 2002 total is only 1,314 students fewer than the University’s all-time high enrollment of 25,135 in 1991.

“We have become more of a university of choice and not just convenience for students,” said Dana Dunn, vice president for academic affairs.

Student Congress President Chris Featherstone, a junior accounting major from Carrollton, thinks the University’s shift toward a more traditional campus is a big reason that students are choosing UTA.

“There are more students living on campus than ever before,” he said. “When you have more students living on campus, you’re going to see a more active campus life. That type of traditional college environment is attractive to a lot of high school seniors.”

Don Brown, the Texas higher education commissioner, told The Dallas Morning News in October that UTA is a great example of how to boost sagging enrollment. “Arlington has done all kinds of thoughtful and creative things to be able to offer more attractive educational programs to a range of students,” he said.

Those efforts have included developing close ties with area community colleges to award more scholarships and make the transfer process easier, as well as launching a local and national ad campaign. Additional on-campus housing and new degree programs also have worked.

“Several programs and initiatives that have been in progress for a number of years have contributed to the increase,” Dr. Dunn said. “They include, but are not limited to, enhanced recruiting and outreach efforts, expanded academic programming including online courses and programs, new residence facilities and improved marketing and advertising.”

The number of traditional college-aged students, ages 18-24, continues to rise. This group comprises almost 70 percent of the school’s enrollment, while there are 14 percent in the 25- to 29-year-old age group and 15.8 percent age 30 and above.

Even more dramatic are the gains in minority enrollment. The number of African-American students rose 19.6 percent, Hispanic students 15.3 percent and Asian-American students 12.3 percent.

– Jim Patterson


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