UT's graduation rate increases five percent

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Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Sixty-six percent of the class of 2017 graduated within four years, UT announced, achieving the University’s largest ever jump between years in its four-year graduation rate — an increase of about five percent from the previous year.

Maurie McInnis, executive vice-president and provost, said she and the Student Success Initiatives team worked to increase four-year graduation rates and provide resources to help students complete their degrees.  

“We have improved graduation rates by more than 15 percent in a very short period of time — that’s an incredible accomplishment,” McInnis said. “Many things contributed to the increase and, first and foremost, it was the students themselves who have set high standards for themselves.”

UT-Austin has the highest graduation rate out of all Texas universities, according to the Provost’s Office.

“Most universities tend to be in fairly static modes in relation to their graduation rate,” McInnis said. “The University of Texas really stands out as a national leader who decided to really focus on raising it.”

The University’s graduation rate had been steady — around 50 percent ­— until the Student Success Initiatives established resources like the Graduation Help Desk, University Leadership Network and freshmen success programs, said Senior Vice Provost David Laude.

Laude, who assembled the Student Success Initiatives team, said the programs the team created greatly improved the graduation rate.

“This is very much the consequence of hundreds and hundreds of people across the University working together,” Laude said.

McInnis said emphasizing graduation after four years of college is essential because it saves students money, allows them to move forward in life and allows the University to admit hundreds more incoming students.

“The world has changed, and it makes an enormous amount of sense for students to be getting on with the next phase in their lives,” McInnis said.

Since 2013, Associate Vice Provost Carolyn Connerat said she has worked to create more ways to help students graduate with their class. Connerat said she wants to reach a 70 percent graduation rate with the class of 2018.  

“I’m very excited at the progress we’ve made over the last few years, and I would like to see it continue to climb,” Connerat said. “I’m especially thrilled about the increase in graduation rates for our students who are first-generation or low-income, because it helps those students to move forward and not take on more student debt.”

Connerat said a big factor in increasing four-year graduation rate was changing the mindset of students. She said this goal prompted the creation of “class of” groups to encourage students to graduate with their class.

“If students didn’t say ‘I want to graduate with my students,’ it would never happen,” Connerat said. “The key has been in all of campus working together in a culture change.”

The team will continue to implement programs to help more students graduate and believes the University will reach the graduation levels of UT’s competitors in the coming years, Connerat said.