COLLEGE STATION, Sept. 21, 2012 — Texas A&M University is setting records in both total enrollment and the demographics of its students as the 2012 academic year gets under way. As of 12th class-day data, university officials are reporting a total enrollment of 53,337, including undergraduate and graduate students at College Station, as well as at the institution’s two branch campuses, Texas A&M University at Galveston and Texas A&M University at Qatar.
That total should once again place Texas A&M among the nation’s largest universities. In College Station alone, registration for fall 2012 courses represents an increase compared to the certified total for fall 2011 and should officially surpass 50,000 for the first time in the university’s 136-year history, according to Texas A&M’s Data and Research Services (DARS).
While the numbers have changed, Texas A&M’s commitment to its land-grant heritage of accessibility has not, Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin emphasized. This year’s enrollment includes students from 239 of Texas’ 254 counties, and almost 25 percent of this year’s freshmen class comprises students who are the first in their immediate families to attend college.
Student demographics continue to evolve at Texas A&M as well. Students who identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino reached the highest levels to date at the College Station campus, with 8,160 students, or roughly 16 percent of the total student population and more than 18 percent of the undergraduate population. Total ethnic minority enrollment is just over 24 percent, and women account for more than 46 percent of the total enrollment.
“While our goal is not to be the largest university, it is a point of immense pride that more students each year recognize the excellent education and experiences that Texas A&M provides at a significantly greater value in comparison to our national peers,” said Dr. Loftin.
In recent years, the university has been working to balance enrollments across categories of undergraduate and graduate students. This fall’s enrollment represents increases in transfer students from across the state, and more than 900 freshmen will participate in the highly successful Texas A&M-Blinn College TEAM co-enrollment program.
For the first time, graduate student enrollment has surpassed the 10,000 milestone. Graduate students who seek advanced credentials for professional career advancement or who are working to become the next generation of professors have been targeted by Texas A&M in furtherance of its vision of preeminence among the nation’s best public universities. Recent reallocations of resources have supported graduate student fellowships, created new graduate degree options and targeted recruitment in each college. The enrollment profile shows those investments are paying dividends for Texas A&M, officials note.
“Tradition and student spirit are significant factors in students’ choice to attend Texas A&M. The tradition I find most important is the commitment of our faculty and staff to students’ learning and well-being. This has been our hallmark and will be the key to our continued success in attracting highly qualified students,” notes Provost Karan L. Watson.
Dr. Watson has worked with each of the college deans at the College Station campus to develop enrollment incentives that are precipitated by student graduation goals. Texas A&M’s four-year graduation rates have significantly improved from 38.4 percent to 50.9 percent since 2001, while six-year rates stand at 80 percent. The university is making considerable advances in achieving the Action 2015: Education First target of 12,500 degrees granted per year, she adds. Commencements in August helped Texas A&M to reach 11,932 degrees granted for the 2011-2012 academic year, the largest single-year total ever.
Additional enrollment highlights show Texas A&M’s appeal is global, with more than 5,000 international students representing more than 65 countries.
Figures for the 12th class day are those initially reported to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, but the figures are not certified until the 20th class day. Reports to the Coordinating Board only include students for whom Texas A&M receives state funding and, as such, will not reflect students from the Texas A&M branch campus in Qatar, or students pursuing degrees by distance education who are taking courses from out of state and other non-funded students. University officials point out that operation of the Qatar campus is fully funded by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
“Each of our students brings individual experiences and a passion for learning to Texas A&M which we help them to harness,” Dr. Loftin said. “Whether here in College Station, in Galveston or in Qatar, our primary goal is, and will always be, to ensure that we effectively utilize the resources entrusted to us to provide our students with the very best education.”