UH graduation rates increase
UH is continuing its fight to claim a ranking among the top Texas universities and a recent increase in graduation rates shows the University is gaining some ground.
President Renu Khator cited the increase at a UH System Board of Reports quarterly meeting this month.
“We are on track for a record-breaking year in terms of research grants and enrollment,” Khator said in an email. “Those are significant achievements, but we must also remain focused on graduation rates.”
Graduation rates have seen a 4.3 percent increase from 40.8 percent in 2009 to 45.1 percent this year. This graduation rate tracks incoming freshman from year one to year four, and does not include transfers.
“This is the highest (graduation rate) ever for UH,” Richard Bonnin, director of media relations, said in an email. “The University’s goal is to raise it by 2 percent each year until it is at least at 52 percent.”
According to the U.S. News and World Report’s most recent edition of America’s Best Colleges, UH has an overall total of 41 percent for graduation rates, putting it far behind other Texas universities.
The University of Texas in Austin has an 81 percent graduation rate, Texas A&M has an 80 percent rate and Texas Tech has a 60 percent rate.
However, Khator said that despite an attempt to increase graduation numbers in the coming years, especially with the finalization of the numbers in October, the University’s primary focus is helping students graduate successfully.
“We are changing the mix of students to reflect a nationally competitive class of high-achieving students,” Khator said. “We have the resources in place to achieve this goal, and they reflect our commitment to student success.”
In an effort to help establish academic confidence among students, the University has implemented new programs for incoming freshmen.
One of these initiatives is CORE 1101, a one-credit class that helps students take charge and responsibility by setting goals, thinking critically and honing skills that will help them become successful students.
Incoming students must now declare a major much sooner than students before them.
“Starting this fall, incoming freshmen need to declare a major within the first 30 hours,” Bonnin said. “There are workshops and even a Major Selection Fair to assist students with their decision-making process.”
Seventeen new advisors have been funded by the Provost’s office. A newly redesigned orientation for incoming freshman has also been implemented, which will be more academically oriented, with faculty and academic advisers becoming more involved in the process.
According to the College Board Completion Agenda, only 50.2 percent of Texas students graduate with a six-year bachelor’s degree. Fewer and fewer students are graduating in four years. The Texas average for students to graduate in four years is only at 31 percent.
To aid upper division undergraduates, the University looks at scheduling to provide alternative means for students who commute, have families or work.
More than 800 students participated in a mini-winter session this past year, Bonnin said, which is an easier way for students who are interested in taking classes in a shorter term or want to continue on with class to meet the demands of graduation.
“Our students are certainly no less capable than those at other universities, but many have additional challenges beyond the classroom,” Bonnin said. “Under the president’s leadership, UH is committed to providing all of our students with the support they need to graduate in a timely manner.”