Universities Report Record-Breaking 11th Day Counts

by Sarah Campbell-Miller  on Monday, Sep. 11, 2017 10:57 am   3 min read

Seven Arkansas universities reported record-breaking enrollment last week, though the University of Arkansas also said its growth had slowed.

The numbers are based on an 11th day count required by the Department of Higher Education.


UA in Fayetteville welcomed 27,558 students for the fall 2017 semester, the 19th consecutive year for enrollment growth. Still, the 1.3 percent increase was lower than the average growth rate of 12.3 percent over the past five years.

Undergraduate enrollment was up 2.2 percent to a record 23,044, while graduate student enrollment dropped by 2.7 percent to 4,161.

The freshman class this year, at 5,065, is the first to have more than 5,000 degree-seeking students.

Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment management, said UA met its goal for freshmen enrollment and expected the slowdown. Its plan is to grow the graduate school and its online enrollment to achieve a good balance.

"This is the type of controlled, quality growth that we are striving for here at the University of Arkansas," Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz said in a news release. He said McCray; Kim Needy, graduate school dean; and the UA's recruitment staff for undergraduate and graduate admissions had "done an outstanding job of recruiting our largest and best qualified group of Arkansas students to campus, while still attracting exceptional students from across the country and around the world – all at a time when many institutions are seeing their enrollment numbers decline. This enrollment picture is great news for the U of A – and for the state of Arkansas."

The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, Southern Arkansas University, Ouachita Baptist University and University of the Ozarks also reported record-breaking freshman classes.


Arkansas State University reported a dip in its first-time freshman count, and said it is working to address retention of first-year students, which was also down.

Enrollment at ASU reached 14,125, up from 14,085 last year. The university said that's because it had a record number of graduate and concurrent students, and it opened its campus in Querétaro in Mexico.

But ASU's full-time equivalency decreased. Full-time equivalent is a formula designed by the state to fund universities and accounts for the difference between the headcount of students and their full- or part-time status, according to a news release.

ASU's FTE enrollment dropped by 327.2 students to 9,779.5. It was 10,106.7 last fall.

The university had a record number of graduate students at 4,336; a record number of doctoral students at 291; and a record 663 high school students seeking college credit.

But the number of international undergraduate students enrolled dropped by almost 75 percent. International grad students dropped 14.6 percent.

ASU lost 90 international first-time freshmen, coming in at 34 compared to last year's 124.

Bill Smith, executive director for marketing and communications, said ASU did not meet its goal for international enrollment, but seeing a decrease in that is a nationwide trend.

Online enrollment increased though, by 5.4 percent for undergraduate students and by 36 percent for grad students. Total online enrollment reached 3,728.


First-time undergraduate enrollment is up by 3 percent at the University of Central Arkansas. Transfer student enrollment also rose, by 12 percent to 742.

First-time undergraduate enrollment grew to 1,937 from 1,880 in Fall 2016.

The incoming class of 2021 is also the most academically qualified class in the history of the university, with an average ACT composite score of 24.3 and an average GPA of 3.5, the university said.

FTE enrollment remained steady at 9,696, and total enrollment was 11,350.

UCA said transfer enrollment may be up because of transfer agreements with 19 Arkansas community colleges, which helps students fulfill the first two years of a designated degree program at UCA.


UAFS saw an increase in headcount, FTE and freshmen enrollment. The headcount reached 6,637, up from 6,597 last fall, and FTE enrollment was 5,175, up from 5,119.

Enrollment of first-time entering students was 1,105, up 3 percent year-over-year.

Also, UAFS reported a 12 percent increase in continuing freshmen and a 13.5 percent increase in concurrent student enrollment.


SAU's enrollment has been growing for the past five years, and this fall's 870 freshman is the largest freshman class in the school's history.

Overall undergraduate enrollment was also record-breaking, coming in at 3,450.

The university in Magnolia had its largest sophomore class as well, the largest incoming Honors College class and the largest number of students living on campus.


OBU in Arkadelphia saw its first-time freshmen enrollment increase by 17.9 percent to 448, the largest year-to-year increase in recent history.

Its total enrollment was up slightly too, from 1,517 last year to 1,545 this year.

President Ben Sells said the university refocused its recruiting on high school students the university thought would be a good fit for OBU. This is also the first year of a five-year campaign to get enrollment up to 1,750, which is the enrollment the university was built for, he said.

University of the Ozarks

The University of the Ozarks in Clarksville had the largest incoming class in its history at 305 and an all-time high of 755 enrolled.

Total enrollment is up by 10 percent from last fall, and it has increased 29 percent since 2013.

The incoming class increased by 30 percent from last year.

The university said its five-year tuition freeze and mission-driven approach to financial aid led to the influx of students.

The enrollment is also the most geographically diverse in University of the Ozarks' history, with 135 international students coming from 23 countries, though 48 percent of its student body hails from Arkansas.



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