Fall 2012 enrollment at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith officials is down 3% compared to fall 2011, according to a UAFS statement released Thursday (Sept. 6).
With an unduplicated headcount of 7,336, the UAFS has enrolled more than 7,300 students for four consecutive years. With the decline in enrollment, UAFS officials focused on positives within the numbers.
UAFS Chancellor Paul Beran noted that the university saw an increase in the average ACT scores of first-time, full-time students to 21.96, which was considerably higher than both the national and state averages, as well as the second highest first-time entering class of 1,358 students, the third highest FTE enrollment of 5,748, and a record 72 percent enrollment of students age 25 and under.
"As a relatively new regional university it is important that we continue to attract and graduate the brightest students from our service area, and we are starting to see that happen now," Beran said in the statement.
UAFS conferred an all-time record 627 bachelor's degrees this past academic year for an 18 percent increase over the previous record year. In addition, the University reports the highest ever upper-class enrollments (junior- and senior-level students), with 2,445 students (or 33 percent of the total student body) in the pipeline to graduate.
Dr. Ray Wallace, provost and senior vice chancellor, noted other key indicators of strategically-focused growth.
"Two academic colleges showed distinct growth in enrollments – the College of Languages and Communications with 23 percent growth in enrollment, and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, with almost 7 percent growth," said Wallace. "Additionally, the University maintained its record full-time enrollment at 66 percent."
Wallace also pointed to one of the reasons for rising ACT test scores at UAFS.
"Another thing we've done to increase ACT scores is to initiate what looks to be a very strong honors program," he said. The Honors International Studies Program began this fall.
Wallace also noted that "the University continues to carefully monitor potential financial aid exploitation. Started last year, the University put a new policy in place that rules that students who receive failing grades in all courses for a given term are immediately placed on financial aid suspension.