Large percentage of UT Class of 2017 on track to graduate in four years

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Based on new data, 86 percent of current University sophomores are on track to graduate within four years, according to David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management.

As part of a University-wide effort to increase graduation rates, University spokesman Joey Williams said programs such as Progress to Degree have been implemented to track how close students in the class of 2017 are to completing their degree requirements.

Williams said the Progress to Degree program implements a University-wide audit to identify which students are, and are not, on track.

“The audit is conducted by the Registrar, who complies a snapshot of where the students are in their four-year progress,” Williams said in an email. “That list is then given to all the colleges, who then proactively work with each student who is not on track to graduate in four years.”

In 2011, President William Powers Jr. announced his goal to increase the four-year graduation rates to 70 percent. He subsequently appointed the Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates, which published a report in 2012 stating that the University could achieve this goal by 2016 through enhancing the first-year orientation experience and by improving advising and student tracking. 

According to the University, UT currently has a four-year graduation rate of 55 percent, which is the highest four-year graduation rate in Texas but straggles behind peer institutions nationwide.

Laude said that since there is now a focus on getting students to graduate in four years, the University is able to more easily identify students not on track and find ways to help them.

“For many of them, it can be as simple as they had to take a semester off because they studied abroad, or maybe they had family issues that they had to deal with,” Laude said. “But for others, it may have been a matter of changing majors. I think, for a lot of those students who have fallen off track, if they work closely with their advisors and find degree plans that are better fit for them, they can make up that difference.”

Laude said one of the reasons why a large percentage of the class of 2017 is set to graduate in four years is because students are aware of the rising cost of education and the burden of debt. He said increased graduation rates will also improve the efficiency of the University.

“In the end, it’s going to mean a lot more students get to enroll at UT and graduate at UT because we do a better job of getting students through,” Laude said.

Correction: This story incorrectly stated the University's current graduation rate is at 52 percent. As of the class of 2014, the rate is at 55 percent.