With the largest incoming freshman class yet, UT takes measures to cut back number of admitted students

Bobby Blanchard

After admitting the largest freshman class in UT’s history, 8,092 students, the University’s administration is saying they expect to enroll almost 1,000 fewer students next year.

This year’s freshman class has put a strain on both the University’s resources and Austin’s housing availability, an issue the University took action on and addressed multiple times during the summer. UT, which accepts students with the assumption that a certain number of students will decline admission offers, had a 2.2 percent increase in the number of students who accepted its admission offer. UT has a total enrollment this year of 52,213, the second largest in UT’s history. UT released its preliminary enrollment numbers Wednesday afternoon.

UT spokesperson Tara Doolittle said the University plans to change the formula it uses to decide how many students to accept. She said implementing some of these changes will be a year-long process, so the University cannot guarantee next year’s incoming class will be smaller. But Doolittle said the admissions formula is changed every year to account for various factors including the economy. She said some of the changes to the admissions process will be implemented immediately. Doolittle said a larger than normal freshman class is not desirable.

"This is not our goal or intent to admit a class this large,” Doolittle said. “It is our hope that our class will not be as large next year. Unchecked growth is not profitable. It is a strain on many of our resources.”

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions, said the University expects to enroll 7,200 students next year. She said the percentage of students accepting admission offers has decreased since 2004. Because of this, the University made additional recruitment efforts last year, which contributed to a much larger than expected number of students accepting admission.

“It is good news to see that those efforts are paying off,” Ishop said in an email. “We are excited to see that increase because it indicates that more students are recognizing the value of a UT-Austin education.”

The School of Undergraduate Studies and the College of Natural Sciences are the two entities at UT affected the most by this freshman class. They both increased their number of available spots, or seats, for students this fall.

Larry Abraham, interim dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, said there are 7,500 students enrolled in Undergraduate Studies signature courses this fall. Every UT undergraduate student is required to take a signature course at some point in their college education, and UT recommends students take it their first year. The School of Undergraduate Studies added an additional 1,300 UGS seats for this fall and upcoming spring and summer semesters.

Abraham also said the School of Undergraduate Studies is providing academic advising and major exploration support to students in the School of Undergraduate Studies who will have to transfer to another college.

Sacha Kopp, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences, said the college is experiencing its biggest freshman class, more than 2,000 freshmen.

Kopp said students have not faced more difficulties than usual when it comes to registering for the classes they need.

“Our next project is to really worry about spring semester,” Kopp said. “For a lot of our majors, students move from taking a lot of lecture classes into taking a lot of labs. So we need to figure out what our enrollment numbers will be in the spring.”

The College of Liberal Arts added almost 5,000 seats across the college this semester, said Richard Flores, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts. Although the college did not see an excessive increase in enrollment, the College of Liberal Arts offers numerous core classes to students across the entire campus.

Flores said the College of Liberal Arts is looking at what classes they will need to increase seats in next year.

Printed on Thursday, September 20, 2012 as: Large freshman class causes problems

Clarification: The formula for admissions is changed every year to account for various factors including the economy. The University will immediately implement some changes to the admissions forumla. The story initially did not make this clear and implied no changes would be made for the admissions forumla to be used for the next class.