Fewer Enrolled In Arkansas Colleges

by Steve Brawner (BRAWNERSTEVE@MAC.COM) 22 views 

Fewer students are enrolled in Arkansas colleges and universities this fall than last. Arkansas Tech University and John Brown University saw the biggest percentage gains, while Philander Smith College and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff had the largest enrollment declines.

According to a Monday press release from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the state’s 170,056 students compares to a fall 2012 enrollment of 174,589. Average enrollment at the state’s 33 public schools decreased two percent, while full-time equivalent enrollment increased half a percent. Private school enrollment declined an average of 2.9 percent. Full-time enrollment data at those schools was not available.

The state’s four-year public schools saw gains of .4 percent in enrollment and 3.6 percent in full-time equivalent students. Enrollment at the state’s private colleges and universities declined by an average of 2.9 percent.

The full-time equivalent student figure is derived by dividing the total semester credit hours taken by all undergraduate students by 15, and by all graduate students by 12. Brandi Hinkle, ADHE communications coordinator, said the full-time equivalent number may have risen because traditional students (those entering college out of high school) who receive the Academic Challenge Scholarship are require to complete 15 hours after their first freshman semester.

Among public schools, Arkansas Tech had the highest percentage gain, increasing its student body by four percent to 11,385. Other gainers were:

– University of Central Arkansas by 3.8 percent to 11,534
– University of Arkansas at Fayetteville by 3.3 percent to 25,341
– Southern Arkansas University by 2.2 percent to 3,404

Four-year schools with declines were:
– University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff by 7.5 percent to 2,615
– Henderson State University by five percent to 3,583
– University of Arkansas at Little Rock by 3.6 percent to 12,403 students
– Arkansas State University by 2.4 percent to 13,538
– University of Arkansas at Fort Smith by 2.4 percent to 7,158
– University of Arkansas at Monticello by 1.2 percent to 3,897

Private schools that gained enrollment were:
– John Brown University by 5.3 percent to 2,574
– Hendrix College by 3.2 percent to 1,432
– University of the Ozarks by 1.6 percent to 585
– Williams Baptist College by .9 percent to 571
– Ouachita Baptist University by .7 percent to 1,543

Private schools that saw declines were:
– Philander Smith College by 16.8 percent to 555
– Harding University by 7.1 percent to 6,238
– Arkansas Baptist College by 6.5 percent to 1,012
– Crowley’s Ridge College by 5.3 percent to 195
– Lyon College by 1.2 percent to 592
– Central Baptist College by .6 percent to 827

Dr. Bruce McLarty, president of Harding University, explained that the drop at that school was due to a significant decrease in K-12 teachers taking continuing education graduation courses in the summer, a result of what he said was “the ebb and flow of programs within the state of Arkansas.”

Harding’s undergraduate enrollment is up 81, and its full-time equivalent student count is up 100, he said. While its graduate head count is down 589, its full-time equivalent count is down only 67.

“The bottom line is that it’s a good year financially for us. … In terms of our bread and butter graduate programs where you would have full-time or half-time students, we saw no decline there,” he said.

Among the state’s health care-related schools, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences grew by 2.1 percent to 2,867. The Baptist School of Nursing grew eight percent to 918. The Jefferson School of Nursing is enrolling 73 students.

Among two-year schools, College of the Ouachitas in Malvern increased by the highest percentage with a 6.1 percent gain to 1,498 students. Other gainers were Phillips Community College, Cossatot Community College, Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, Arkansas State University-Newport, and the University of Arkansas at Morrilton.

The remaining 16 two-year colleges saw decreasing enrollments, with Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville seeing a 14.8 percent decline to 1,425 students.

The figures are based on enrollments on the 11th day of classes. Final enrollment numbers will be determined at the end of the semester.