UT reports increase in graduation, diversity rates

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Four-year graduation rates are now at 57.7 percent, an increase from last year, UT reported Thursday.

According to UT, the graduation rate is 2.6 percent higher than last year’s, and student diversity has also increased in the past year.

“These new numbers are very positive. I am proud of the work our faculty and University leaders have done to keep UT students on track for four-year graduation — and proud of our students’ success,” UT President Gregory Fenves said in a UT press release. “We will continue to work hard to help students graduate on time with a high-quality education.”

Comparing racial diversity from the previous year, UT also saw an increase in both Hispanic and African-American students admitted. The Hispanic student population increased to 22.1 percent and the African-American student population increased to 5.3 percent.

Xavier Clark, a political communication and communication studies senior, said he does not believe the University should be proud of a small increase.

“Due to the fact that minority representation continues to be a problem on campus, a small increase does not fix a history of systematic neglect towards students at UT,” Clark said. “We have to realize baby steps are just that, baby steps.”

Under former UT President William Powers Jr.’s tenure, the University announced a goal for the class of 2017 to be the first group to have at least 70 percent of the students graduate in four years. The report stated after two years, the persistence rate for this class is 90.5 percent, the highest on record.

Based on the data that was collected, Senior Vice Provost David Laude said University resources have contributed to the success of students.

“We began programmatic work so that the class of 2017 would have advantages of with respect to improved advising, course availability [and] registration availability, we are building a community around the class,” Laude said. “At this particular point, 85 percent of those students are on track to graduate.”

Although the University’s graduation rates are improving, Laude said the University still plans to help students get into classes they need through a program called Senior Countdown.

“The reality is that we have a lot of work to do in terms of whether a student is going to be able to get those courses they need in their junior or senior year,” Laude said. “Toward that, we have created a program called Senior Countdown, which is an opportunity for students starting in the class of 2016 to be guaranteed that if they sign up for it, they will be able to get the courses they need to graduate.”  

The data also found that students returning after their freshman year increased to 95.5 percent. Other findings included UT received 43,592 freshman applicants this year, another UT record, and 7,746 freshmen enrolled at UT, a 6.3 percent increase from a year ago.

Despite the increase in graduation rates, neuroscience junior Brett Platis said he thinks this goal of students graduating in four years is not always the best solution.

“Everyone has to do what’s best for them,” Platis said. “A four year graduation rate isn’t what’s best for every kid and the University is trying to standardize graduation. That’s not what learning is about. That’s what pumping degrees out is.”