Monday, September 30, 2013

Hook 'em Hogs: Texas big factor in growth at University of Arkansas

Posted By on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 11:01 AM

click to enlarge GOOD DEAL: Creating new Arkansans is how the UA describes its cut-rate tuition deal for border student students with sufficient academic credentials.
  • GOOD DEAL: Creating new Arkansans is how the UA describes its cut-rate tuition deal for border student students with sufficient academic credentials.
Recent events at the University of Arkansas have left even some devoted followers of the UA grumbling.

Just this morning, I got a note with a quote attributed to Chancellor David Gearhart in a friendly profile of him in The City Wire based on a day spent with him Aug. 21, 2012.

“It just drives me nuts if we don’t answer people in a timely way.”

CORRECTION: I got the day wrong on the publication date of the quote, but the irony remains high. It predated by almost exactly a year, not by two days, the firing of top UA spokesman John Diamond, an event that has set in motion quite a bit of ongoing controversy, not to mention a prosecutor's review. At its core is how promptly and fully Gearhart responded to requests for public information and whether his interest in keeping some information out of public view might have led to destruction of records.

But my correspondent was less interested in that than the UA's enrollment growth. On whose dime, he asks?

Preliminary numbers say the Fayetteville campus will have 25,000 students this fall. A breakdown on those numbers as to state or origin isn't available yet.

But I found interesting a review of the 10-year span between 2002 and 2012.

Total enrollment grew from 15,995 to 24,537, about a 53 percent increase.

Total enrollment of Arkansas students grew from 12,537 to 14,774, an increase of 18 percent.

Then I looked at the increase in enrollment from states that border Arkansas, plus Kansas, whose students enjoy much lower tuition/fee costs than other non-residents, though not quite as low as residents. This year, for example, total tuition and fees for residents is listed at $6,354 versus $19,074 for non-residents. But students from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana qualify for "New Arkansan" rates, the sum of resident charges plus up to $2,200 more. It's still a heckuva deal and numbers indicate it's productive in competition for students.

Out-of-staters who get the tuition break increased from 1,877 in 2002 to 6,368 in 2012, a 340 percent increase.

Texans are the biggest part of the surge. Their numbers grew from 572 in 2002 to 3,723 in 2012, a 650 percent increase. More state-by-state data here.

You can see why Arkansas likes to play Texas A&M in Dallas. Good exposure for recruiting.
The University is sensitive enough about the subject that  it has a PR document  about the price break to attract out-of-state students. They provide benefits for the university and state; meet higher admission standards (an average ACT of 27 and 3.8 GPA for the last group that entered); sometimes stay in Arkansas after education, and so on. The price break does not go to out-of-state students with insufficient scores.

UPDATE: Out-of-state numbers kept inching up this year, I see from preliminary numbers. Of 25,341 students, 15,307 are Arkansas residents. In the freshman class, there were 2,843 residents, 2,532 non-residents and 120 foreign students, for a bare 191-student edge for Arkies.

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