Enrollment results mixed at UA System

Most schools in the University of Arkansas system reported modest declines or stable enrollments this fall compared to the same time last year, although a handful saw higher enrollments.

At a time when college enrollments are declining statewide and statewide, the fact that a handful of UA System institutions increased enrollments while several others were essentially flat is “remarkable,” said Donald Bobbitt, president of the UA system.

Nearly 1.3 million students disappeared from American colleges during the coronavirus pandemic, and student attendance fell by nearly 10%.

About one in four Arkansas residents age 25 or older have at least a bachelor’s degree, making Arkansas one of the bottom five states in this category according to the US Census Bureau. Nationwide, the percentage of people over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher is around 38%.

Matriculation and student credit hours are critical to colleges and universities, in part because of the revenue they generate from tuition and mandatory fees, as well as from on-campus food services and housing.


The University of Arkansas at Little Rock reported a nearly 3% drop in enrollment year over year, despite significant increases in freshman, transfer and graduate student numbers.

Total enrollment at UALR stands at 8,103, down 2.7% from the same period last year, according to preliminary figures reported by the university on Sept. 7. However, that figure exceeded the university’s own enrollment forecast by 3%.

According to Angie Faller, news director, communications and marketing at UALR, freshman numbers have increased by an “unprecedented 29%,” while transfer students are up 8% and graduate students are up 5%. More students are also living on campus, with a “more than 11% increase in housing occupancy over last year.”

UALR “is experiencing the largest percentage increase in freshman and transfer students in over a decade,” said Cody Decker, vice chancellor for student affairs and chief data officer, in a statement from the university. For these incoming freshmen, the average high school GPA is 3.3 and the average ACT score is 22.4.

The surge in graduate students “follows a 45 percent increase in graduate and graduate applications [a] 31% more admissions,” Faller said. The information science department saw the largest jump, up 86%, while enrollments also increased in the graduate programs in history, computer science, art and design, and biology.

“Graduate education remains a priority for many high school seniors because of the value that a graduate degree brings,” Brian Berry, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, said in a statement from the university.

“This is particularly true in the areas of cybersecurity, information science and information quality, as evidenced by their significant growth this year,” Berry said. “Growth in these areas is critical to developing the workforce needed to meet the demands of our growing, knowledge-based economy here in Arkansas and throughout the region.”


Total fall enrollment at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is down 7% from last fall to 2,482 from 2,670.

“We’re analyzing the data to determine where and why most of the decline occurred,” said Mary Hester-Clifton, Director of Communications, Institutional Advancement. “There is not a single reason for the decline, [but] It appears that the pandemic and economic conditions are affecting our enrollment.”

However, graduate enrollment was up 17% year-over-year, and the university had a six-year graduation rate of over 40% for the second year in a row, she added. “As we continue to focus on increasing enrollment, we are pleased to see a higher percentage of our graduate students graduating.”


UA-Fayetteville surpassed 30,000 enrollments for the first time this fall, setting a new record of 30,936 enrollments, up 8.3% from last year, said Suzanne McCray, vice president of enrollments and dean of admissions. Enrollment has roughly doubled over the past quarter century, and “we’ve added 10,000 students since 2009.”

The university received more than 26,000 applications for enrollment this fall; Four years ago, the university received fewer than 20,000 applications, McCray said. For autumn 2023, the university received 1,300 more applications than at this point in the previous year, because “we have become a target university”.

The cumulative high school GPA of the 7,099 freshmen graduating this fall also set a new record of 3.77, she said. “We believe this will improve our retention and completion rates, [because] These students are better prepared for college.”

The Sam F. Walton School of Business has led the enrollment increase as it grew by 600 students this year — a far larger increase than any other school — to 2,417 students, she said. The UA-Fayetteville freshman class includes 2,835 Arkansans, as well as 2,555 Texans, 578 Missourians, and 303 Kansans because “we are the number one university” for Kansans and Missourians outside of their respective states.

Texas is a crucial state for recruitment as the population continues to grow rapidly, while many other states — including Arkansas — will see notable declines in prospective college students over the next decade due to the country’s declining birthrate. said interim chancellor Charles Robinson. Out-of-state students are generally critical to the university because they pay out-of-state tuition, “which allows us to keep Arkansans costs down.”

“Some foreign students pay higher tuition than others based on whether or not they qualify for the New Arkansan Non-Resident Tuition Award” — which offers scholarships based on academic merit such as GPA — “but even those who qualify still pay higher tuition than any Arkansan,” said Mark Rushing, Associate Vice Chancellor, University Relations.

With 2,835 in-state students in that freshman class, the university saw an 8% increase in Arkansans this year, McCray said. At the university, 90% of scholarship funds go to Arkansans, and 97% of Arkansans who apply for a scholarship receive at least one.

The university intends to continue recruiting in the state, she said. The RazorBug continues to tour the state; College advisors will soon be able to recommend college students who might otherwise be overlooked, and the free application day will be extended.

“Free application days are very popular and some students are counting on them,” she said. “We want to make sure that no student who wants to apply” is prevented from doing so because of a lack of resources.


Enrollment at the University of Arkansas, Monticello, rose to 2,717 this year from 2,673 last fall, and transfer student enrollment is up 27% compared to the fall 2021 semester, from 131 to 166 students, according to the university. In addition, graduate student enrollment has hit a record high, up 10% from 409 to 451 students, according to the university. With a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Public Health set to begin in January and currently accepting applicants, further growth of graduate students is expected in the near future.

“The increase in overall enrollments across UAM’s three campuses underscores the success of our outreach efforts and confirms what we are proud to know about our university: UAM is a model higher education institution that offers affordable, comprehensive education, from technical certificates to graduate degrees. Chancellor Peggy Doss said in a statement. “While our numbers are not increasing in all areas of enrollment, we look forward to continued growth in the coming academic year as a result of new program offerings and partnerships.”


The University of Arkansas Phillips Community College reported a 1.5% increase in student enrollment this fall, adding 10 students to last fall’s 663 enrollments.

Targeted recruitment for technical programs such as CDL/trucking, construction, HVAC, cosmetology, medical laboratory technology and bloodletting have all resulted in a surge in enrollment for the fall semester and the college has also increased its social media presence/marketing, especially during the entire registration period, according to a press release from the school. “By using analytical Google search we are able to assess our marketing and monitor our performance with data reports which have shown that our site has increased significantly.”

A new full behavioral health scholarship offered by the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership also helped with enrollment, according to the college. Another incentive is the college’s complimentary transportation service, which is available each semester for students from the Helena-West Helena area who live within reasonable distances from campus.


At UA Grantham — based in Little Rock and the UA System’s only online-only institution — the eight-week semesters begin on a rotating basis each month, as opposed to the traditional semester starts, according to Nate Hinkel, UA Grantham’s director of communications and for the UA system. The most recent period for reporting is the July/August start dates, which attracted 4,427 students, nearly 200 more than the same time last year.

The total number of case workers for UAMS is 3,240, up from 3,088 last fall.


Enrollment at University Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana is essentially stable as enrollment this fall is 1,188, down just three from last fall.

The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton reported a slight drop in Day 11 enrollments this year to 1,901 from 1,962 in 2021.

The University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville has also declined slightly, from a total of 1,113 in fall 2021 to 1,096 this year.

The University of Arkansas’ Cossatot Community College also declined slightly this year, by about 80 students, from 1,361 last fall to 1,280 this year.

Enrollment at the University of Arkansas, Rich Mountain, fell to 690 from last fall’s official tally of 718.

The University of Arkansas, Fort Smith, reported a 1.6% fall in fall enrollment from 5,447 last fall to 5,360 this year.

Total case counts at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College fell for the third straight year to 4,223 this fall. In 2019, enrollment was 5,531; 4,833 in 2020 and 4,425 in 2021.

photo Enrolled in the University of Arkansas system, Fall 2021 through Fall 2022