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UTA ranked No. 1 in Texas for adult learners

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 • Media Contact: UT Arlington Media Relations

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The University of Texas at Arlington is the top four-year university in Texas for adult learners who are over the age of 25, according to Washington Monthly’s 2017 College Guide.

Only three Texas institutions made the list. Washington Monthly ranked UTA among the top 50 in the U.S. for serving adult learners and No. 1 in Texas. UTA is also ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the top public university in the nation for graduating students with the lowest average student debt. 

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area boasts a population of more than 7.1 million people, and the average resident is about 35 years old. The University contributes to the Texas economy and North Texas by providing a number of education options to the workforce interested in retraining, pursuing a degree, continuing education, distance learning or increased social mobility. The Brookings Institution recently ranked UTA among the top 25 “leader” universities in the U.S. for providing high social mobility and high levels of impactful research, empowering students to pursue advanced careers while maintaining low student debt.

While North Texas is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S., only a third of residents over the age of 25 have an undergraduate or advanced degree. UTA is contributing to a more educated workforce with innovative education opportunities for adult learners, including the Division for Enterprise Development which focuses on improving employability and enhancing job skills for North Texans already in the workforce, providing certificates and professional accreditation. Strong partnerships with community colleges also ensure a seamless transfer of credits and direct pathways to degrees, offering customized advising, tailored orientation sessions and financial aid counseling.

 “The traditional progression of a student from high school to four-year university to graduate school in a straight linear fashion is no longer the norm,” said UTA President Vistasp Karbhari. “Employment demands are also changing, requiring students to commit to a lifetime of learning, training and retraining. UTA recognizes this and it is why we provide educational opportunities to help our non-traditional students earn degrees and certifications that will positively impact their social mobility and contribution to the workforce.”

Adult education is also a key focus at the state level, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60x30TX strategic plan sets forth a goal of 60 percent of Texans ages 25 to 34 having earned a certificate or degree by 2030. UTA contributes to this statewide effort, providing academic excellence, flexibility in programs and affordability. With the conferral of 12,749 degrees in the 2016-17 academic year, a 35 percent increase over the 9,470 degrees conferred during the 2013-14 academic year, UTA is focused not only on ensuring student success but also preparing a highly educated workforce and intelligentsia for Texas.

“I'm proud that The University of Texas at Arlington is a clear leader in serving all students, regardless of age," said state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. "This designation also bodes well for veterans who have chosen to first serve their country, then pursue higher education after leaving the military. UTA understands its role as a partner in these educational and workforce development efforts.”

UTA works closely with the corporate sector to develop degree programs that meet critical workforce needs such as a bachelor’s degree in construction management introduced in the spring of 2017 and a master of science in construction engineering introduced in 2014. UTA’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation began offering five graduate nursing degrees online in spring 2017 to provide greater flexibility to adults returning to earn advanced degrees to advance their careers. Through a comprehensive set of offerings using face-to-face, hybrid and digital modalities UTA ensures that its offerings align with Texas’s growing workforce needs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.

In addition, recognizing that continuing and professional education is a critical component for our workforce to remain at a high level of effectiveness, UTA’s Division for Enterprise Development offers diverse training and consulting programs that can lead to enhanced career opportunities.

“By 2030, over 60 percent of the available jobs in the Dallas region will require some form of postsecondary credential,” said Angela Farley, senior vice president of education and workforce at the Dallas Regional Chamber. “In order to meet the regional workforce needs of 60 percent of adult learners holding a post-secondary credential, they must have increased access to higher education and workforce training.”

Washington Monthly developed its rankings through an analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges. The magazine measured seven metrics to determine a university’s ability to serve adult learners:

  • ease of transfer
  • flexibility of programs
  • services available for adult learners
  • size of adult learner population
  • earnings potential for graduates
  • student loan repayment rates
  • tuition and fees

U.S. News and World Report ranks UTA as one of the top campuses in the nation for ethnic diversity. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education lists UTA as No. 1 in Texas for the number of bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded to African-American students and No. 21 in the U.S. for bachelor’s and master’s degrees conferred to all minority students.