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Monday, October 19, 2020

Analysis

UHin4, great football spur another enrollment record


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Since Renu Khator entered office as chancellor and president, UH’s growth has only continued. Top-ranked Texas public school University of Texas at Austin enrollment has stabilized and decreased. | Leah Nash/The Cougar

There’s never been this many people on campus.

On the 12th day of class, when enrollment numbers are officially counted, 43,767 students were enrolled in classes at UH, the third year in a row that UH’s enrollment has reached a record high.

Since President and Chancellor Renu Khator assumed her office in 2008, enrollment has grown from 36,104 that fall to 43,767 this semester. That spike of over 21 percent will mean ongoing changes, including challenges such as increased class sizes and parking and traffic difficulties.

“Expansion sometimes means difficulties,” Student Government Association President Shane Smith said. “But with plenty of feedback and hard work we can do our best to make sure that everything still functions smoothly.”

With the exception of 2013, UH’s enrollment has grown every year since 2006. Smith attributes this to skilled campus leadership.

“The consistent trend towards rising enrollment is reflective of the tremendous work by members of the administration,” Smith said. “We’ve had a strategy in place that has increased our application numbers and yield rate while raising the quality of our University. Clearly, that strategy has succeeded.”

Some in UH’s Office of Institutional Research think that UHin4, a program designed to help students graduate in four years, is partially responsible for retaining students who aren’t freshmen.

“We don’t have specific explanations for the growth since we don’t have a way of capturing that,” Susan Moreno, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Information Management, said. “I do think UHin4 has played a role in that students are required to maintain a certain level of enrollment. And there’s been more outreach and focus on working with students to ensure they continue their enrollment.”

In addition to UHin4, the success of UH’s football team and changing academic credentials are given some credit.

“In my opinion, another reason is likely tied to the excitement around the University with regards to it standing and its football team,” Moreno said. “I think it’s getting more recognition nationally which draws more students to it, whether it’s inside or outside the state. That’s my personal opinion.”

Some on the Student Fees Advisory Committee, a group of students, faculty, and administrators who allocate funds to various campus departments and organizations, are excited about what the growth in student population will mean: more funds.

“It brings in some extra funds for us,” SFAC member and SGA Sen. Fahad Rehan said. “255 dollars times a thousand is a lot of money. With that increase in funds, we can invest in different programs at U of H, which increases the value of student life at UH. Though, due to the increase, we do have to also factor in the needs of an extra thousand students.”

Rehan thinks that this is indicative of UH’s rise to prominence in Texas.

“We are truly coming out as a third power in Texas. We are no longer considered people’s safety school,” Rehan said. “With our football program the way it is, and our academics constantly improving, I don’t see why students wouldn’t want to be here.”

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