Institutional research data shows decreased freshman enrollment
After two months of compiling data, the UALR Office of Institutional Research released statistics on Oct. 12 indicating an unexpected decline in freshman enrollment and a slight increase in overall retention.
Data for the entering freshman class of 2016, which was expected to be the second-largest in the school’s history, indicated a decline of 76 students (923 to 847) from fall 2011 to the current semester. The sophomore, junior and senior classes remained in the same range as the previous year and did not reflect any substantial changes. Interim Provost Sandra Robertson did not respond to questions concerning the size of the freshman class.
The university’s retention rate, which indicates the number of students who decide to continue at the same institution throughout their college careers, jumped from 62 to 67 percent from 2011 to 2012. This is comparatively lower than other Arkansas colleges, as U.S. News and World Report disclosed rates of 83 percent and 70 percent for University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and Arkansas State University, respectively.
But Sonia Hazelwood, interim director of the Office of Institutional Research, notes that some students are not incorporated into the retention rate when data is calculated.
“Transfer, international and non-traditional students who did not start here as entering freshmen are excluded from the retention rate calculation,” she said. “This retention rate is calculated for first-time, entering and degree-seeking students only as this is a cohort that state and federal agencies use to calculate traditional rates.”
Of the 12,872 students that were enrolled this fall, over 80 percent are pursuing degrees in undergraduate programs. Fifty-five percent of undergraduates are full-time students, outnumbering part-time scholars by 1187 students and reflecting a slight decrease from the fall 2011 semester.
Other available data included the number of students living in and out of state. Ninety-two percent of UALR students reside in Arkansas while the remaining number have permanent addresses elsewhere. Hazelwood said these numbers do not fluctuate much, and both numbers only experienced changes by 1 percent.