Fall enrollment up at UAFS, ATU-Ozark

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 85 views 

Fall enrollment figures are up at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, with one university official saying the tight economy is one reason for the increase.

Fall headcount at the UAFS totaled 7,719, a 5.4% increase compared to fall 2009.

"Even more encouraging is that the university’s full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment total is now 5,894, a 7.2 percent increase over last fall," said Dr. Ray Wallace, UAFS provost and senior vice chancellor.

Full-time equivalent numbers are mathematically derived to show how many of the enrolled headcount in any college or university would be considered as taking a full load (15 hours) of classes. Wallace said the 10-year FTE totals are even more dramatic.

"Indeed, over the last 10 years, UA Fort Smith has shown constant growth in the number of FTE students enrolled, increasing in FTE enrollment from 2,990 in 2000 to today’s 2010 record of 5,894, a 97% increase," Wallace noted in a statement.

Wallace said the increases are important for the university because budgets from the State are determined in large part by FTE enrollment.

"To have a 7.2% FTE increase this year is quite special for any university," said Wallace, "and it bodes well for the future of our university and the greater Fort Smith region."

UAFS Chancellor Dr. Paul B. Beran said the increases suggest UAFS “is becoming an institution of selected choice and not convenience.”

The key enrollment changes according to Wallace are increases in the number of full-time students, the number of upper-level students and the increases in majors enrolled in each of the university’s academic colleges. He said the first-year entering class shows a "massive" 9.1% increase to 1,422 students.

"This is our largest first-year class ever in the history of the institution," he said. "Furthermore, 65% of our students are now enrolled as full-time students, a 9.5 percent increase over last year."

The UAFS also posted a 24.1% increase in the number of credit hours taken by junior- and senior-level students, a number Wallace said indicates the university’s retention efforts are paying off.

Other UAFS enrollment stats released Wednesday (Sept. 8) include:
• Female students account for 58% of the student population;
• International student enrollment showed a 56% enrollment increase, and out-of-state students increased by 18.7%;
• Students transferring from other in-state institutions showed an 8.7% increase; and,
• There is a 30% increase in the number of students taking courses at off-campus locations.

The unofficial enrollment figures from ATU-Ozark indicate fall enrollment will top 1,600 students. Official enrollment will be recorded Thursday (Sept. 9).

If enrollment surpasses 1,600, it will mark a more than 106% increase over fall 2008, and a more than 182% increase over fall 2006.

“Our campus provides a valuable opportunity for those impacted by today’s tough economic climate, and our administration is committed to maintaining the needed access to our institution,” noted an ATU-Ozark statement.

ATU-Ozark Chancellor Dr. Jo Alice Blondin said convenience and affordability also play into the enrollment growth during the past four years.

“Arkansas Tech-Ozark is the most affordable institution in this region. Combine that with our award winning academic programs and friendly atmosphere, the growth we have experienced is not a surprise,” Blondin noted in a statement.