UT Becomes Leading Texas Public University in Graduation Success

In 2011, former UT president Bill Powers set the ambitious goal of raising four-year graduation rates from 52 percent that spring to 70 percent by 2017. Today, President Greg Fenves announced that the university’s rates have reached just shy of that goal, coming in at 66 percent—making UT the leading Texas public university in graduation success.

“We almost hit the mark,” Fenves said in a statement. “We are on pace to reach the 70 percent benchmark soon, which is comparable to the graduation rates of top-ranked peer universities. Furthermore, over 82 percent of UT students now graduate within six years of enrolling.”

According to the news release, the data comes from the preliminary enrollment report conducted by the university after the 12th day of class each fall. The current graduation rate—which marks a 5 percent increase from last year—reflects the success of the graduating class of May 2017, the first to fully participate in what the university calls “student-success programming,” which provides the support students need to graduate on time.

Executive vice president and provost Maurie McInnis says much of the improvement in graduation rates has to do with these support programs, including the graduation help desk which offers students who need assistance in getting their needed classes and mentor groups that ensure at-risk students make it through the four years.

“But all the credit has to go to the students,” McInnis says. “They’re the ones who embraced a new way of thinking about being a new student at The University of Texas. We challenged them to set very high goals for themselves, to be ambitious and they completely grabbed that goal and made it part of their education.”

The drive for four-year graduation rates comes with benefits for both the university and students. McInnis says a student set up to graduate in four years saves money on tuition and board, they move into the workforce sooner, and are less at risk of dropping out. She says in cases where students decide to change degrees, the university still tries to work with the student to ensure the most efficient route to graduation. Simultaneously, the university is able to make room for more students to enroll. According to the news release, the increased graduation rates have enabled the university to enroll about a 1,000 new freshmen.

Going forward, McInnis says once the university hits its goal of 70 percent, it will continue to remain focused on improving graduation rates but also how to better prepare students for life after college. At his 2017 State of the University Address, Fenves touched on this, announcing UT’s investment in its College to Career initiative designed to prepare students for career after graduation.

“We will always remain focused on trying to ensure students’ success,” McInnis says. “The next step is thinking of how we can do a better job to make the linkages between students’ education here and their successful careers after they leave us.”

 

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