Established in 1969 as a "university of the first class" by the Texas Legislature, The University of Texas at San Antonio has been committed to providing students an excellent, well-rounded education. Now, UTSA, already a research university, is on the path to be recognized for its quality as Tier One.
Though the benchmarks for Tier One schools are only loosely defined, UTSA’s focus on excellence in every aspect of what it has to offer has positioned the university as a top contender for that exclusive status.
Chosen for the Path to Tier One
The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and Rice University are the state's only Tier One institutions. Although these universities are world-renowned for research and education, the three alone cannot keep up with growing student demand.
If Texas is to compete in producing more students in graduate and doctoral programs, in producing cutting–edge research and high tech innovations, and in generating patents that birth companies, industries and commercialization opportunities, it needs more Tier One schools.
In 2009, the Texas Legislature recognized the state's need for more Tier One universities by passing House Bill 51. As a result, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) identified seven state universities (called emerging research universities) that have the momentum and the potential to become Tier One. The universities were chosen based on accomplishments in research and education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is one of the seven.
Why It Matters
Job Creation Already, UTSA supports an estimated 15,720 jobs in South Texas. As a Tier One university, UTSA could provide an additional 41,000 jobs in the region. Nearly 10,000 of those jobs would be the direct result of increased research.
Economic Development Tier One status would also mean that UTSA could provide more than $2.5 billion in additional dollars to the local economy thanks to increases in research spending. Economists say Tier One universities add $8.6 million in wages for every $10 million in research expenditures. Investment in research and development yields a 20 to 30 percent rate of return to Texas in terms of jobs and economic stimulus, according to the Texas Legislative Study group.
University Growth The first classes held in 1973 consisted of 670 graduate students. UTSA has grown into a dynamic university with more than 30,000 students from across the nation and around the world. A heightened concentration on research, academic excellence and international reach will lead UTSA to recognition as a Tier One school, along with only three others in Texas.
Stop “Brain Drain” About 10,000 academically talented students leave Texas each year to enroll in graduate programs at universities in other states. Only 4,000 students outside of the state choose Texas for their higher education. That results in a net loss, or “brain drain,” of 6,000 talented students per year, many of whom do not return to Texas after graduation.
Recover Lost Funding Estimates show that Texas loses $3.7 billion annually in federal research and development funding to states with more than three Tier One universities.
Texas Deserves Tier One California, the only state in the nation with a higher population than Texas, has nine Tier One universities; New York, which has a population of 5 million fewer people than Texas, has seven.
What does a Tier One school look like?
Tier One is a general term used for a university that has been nationally recognized for excellence in academics and research. Such universities also are proven to be an economic powerhouse for their region.
In the United States, a Tier One university typically:
- has more than $100 million each year in research expenditures.
- awards at least 100 doctorate degrees per year.
- is recognized by respected national organizations such as the Association of American Universities or by publications such as U.S. News and World Report.
- has faculty members who are Nobel Laureate(s) or members of the National Academies.
UTSA’s Goals and Achievements
Already UTSA has achieved several goals it set to reach by 2016. One of them, recruiting and educating exceptional students, has been surpassed. One marker of that achievement: Two students were finalists for prestigious Rhodes Scholarships, more than most other schools in Texas, which attests to the quality of student UTSA attracts.
The university also wants to entice more students to remain at UTSA to study in master’s and doctoral programs. The university reached its goal of having a 15 percent graduate student population and is considering setting the bar even higher, to 17 percent.
Collaboration with other San Antonio organizations provides UTSA students greater possibilities. For example, the $50 million partnership with CPS Energy and the City of San Antonio for sustainable energy research prepares students for success in a 21st century economy. Partnerships with other organizations lead to opportunities to hire exceptional faculty members, and also have the potential to establish new programs that will not only benefit UTSA students, but the city and state as well.
By serving community needs, such as through the creation of high-paying jobs, UTSA fulfills its commitment to leading San Antonio both economically and socially. Businesses already view the university as a benefit to San Antonio because of its graduates—the city’s next generation of leaders and decision-makers.