Early Numbers Indicate Record College Enrollment in Arkansas

by George Waldon  on Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

Students at Arkansas Tech University make their way to class on the first day of the fall 2012 semester. (Photo by Liz Chrisman)

Enrollment totals for Arkansas colleges and universities should set a new record when official head counts are released next month.

A sampling of student tallies at several public and private institutions of higher education supports that expectation.

Arkansas Tech University in Russellville reported a 4.9 increase in enrollment, marking the 14th consecutive year of record enrollment.

Robert Brown, president of Arkansas Tech, was bursting with collegiate pride when the news was announced earlier this month.

"Our enrollment growth is an indication that our constituents find value and quality in return for their educational dollar at Arkansas Tech," he said. "The more telling fact is that our increases in degree production have outpaced our increases in enrollment growth."

The fall census of students numbered 10,972 split between the main campus at Russellville (8,939) and the Ozark campus (2,033). Among the number are 1,501 first-time freshmen.

For the first time in school history, more than 2,000 students completed degree programs during the 2011-12 academic year.

"There is no question that increasing the percentage of our adult population that holds a college degree is the key to economic development in Arkansas," said Brown, who is starting his 20th year as president of Arkansas Tech.

The school registered one of the highest graduation rates among public four-year universities in Arkansas, 42.7 percent. ATU's rate was second only to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville at 58.1 percent.

Those numbers are tied to students starting classes in fall 2005.

The flagship of the University of Arkansas System reported record preliminary enrollment of 24,537. That reflects a one-year increase of 5.8 percent.

Undergraduate enrollment at the Fayetteville campus reached 20,349 students, a 6.9 percent increase from 2011. The 2012 tally marked the first time the roster of undergraduates topped 20,000 at the school.

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education is still gathering information to track the latest numbers, including retention.



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