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UT graduation rates reach new highs, university officials say

UT's first-year undergraduate retention rate also rose to a record high 96.7%, which is up 1% from 2019.

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin has set new academic milestones, according to new data gathered by university officials

UT reports it has set all-time high figures for four-year and six-year graduation rates – passing its 70% four-year graduation rate goal with a 72.2% in 2020. The university's 2020 six-year graduation rate rose to 87.6%, up 1.9% from the year prior. 

UT's first-year undergraduate retention rate – the amount of freshman who return for their sophomore year – also rose to a record high 96.7%, which is up 1% from 2019. 

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“This success reflects the hard work of our outstanding students, who come to Austin from a diverse range of backgrounds but are united in their ability to thrive and excel once they get here,” said Interim President Jay Hartzell. “Behind them stand thousands of faculty and staff who share in their accomplishment.”

UT's academic success has been consistently improved since 2011, when student initiatives were implemented. In 2011, the four-year graduation rate was 52.5%. Since then, UT officials said that starting in the 2012-13 school year, the university implemented campus-wide student success programs – which offered peer mentoring, academic support and scholarship access – and analyzed student data to provide proactive support for students to help them on a path toward graduation.

Credit: University of Texas at Austin
Courtesy: University of Texas at Austin

Amid these record highs in graduation rates, UT was able to enroll one of its largest freshman classes. 

A total of 8,459 new students enrolled at UT in the fall, which is well above the average class size during the past decade (7,900), according to university officials. Overall undergraduate enrollment was down slightly, however, from 40,163 in 2019 to 40,048 in 2020. 

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Among those numbers, the university set positive trends in enrollment among minorities. According to UT, the university set a new high for the number of Black undergraduates (2,193) and their enrollment percentage (5.5%); and the university reached 26.1% undergraduate Hispanic enrollment, which passes the 25% enrollment threshold that qualifies a university for consideration as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

“I’m especially gratified to see that Black and Hispanic students are choosing to come to UT in higher numbers than ever before,” said Hartzell. “These are encouraging signs – but there is clearly more work to do.”

Credit: University of Texas at Austin
Courtesy: University of Texas at Austin

Here is a bulleted breakdown of the fall enrollment figures from UT mentioned above: 

  • The size of the entering freshman class increased from 8,170 to 8,459, up 3.5%.
  • The overall percentage of Black students (both undergraduate and graduate) rose from 4.9% to 5.3%, and the percentage of Black undergraduates rose from 5.1% to 5.5%, both record highs.
  • The overall percentage of Hispanic students rose from 21.7% to 23.4%, and the percentage of Hispanic undergraduates rose from 24.4% to 26.1%, also record highs.
  • The percentage of white undergraduates dropped from 38.8% to 37.3%.
  • The percentage of Asian undergraduates rose from 22.6% to 23.2%.
  • The percentage of undergraduate students who are Texas residents rose from 90.0% to 91.5%.
  • A record 57,241 new undergraduate students applied for admission to UT for the fall of 2020.
  • The number of first-generation college students increased from 21.8% to 22.8% of undergraduates.
  • The first-year undergraduate retention rate increased to 96.7%, up 1.0% from last fall.

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