News about our Fall 2020 enrollment
As we approach the midpoint of the fall semester, we want to thank you for all that you continue to do to navigate the complexities of the pandemic while promoting excellence in the quality of teaching and support of our students. You have invested countless hours in redesigning and delivering courses of the highest quality and providing the multitude of support services that enable our students to persist and succeed.
Your unwavering efforts have been widely recognized by both new and returning students who have come to UTSA with great confidence in the education they will receive. That confidence is exemplified in the fact that a record 34,742 students are enrolled this semester, up 6.6% from last fall.
We especially thank the academic colleges and faculty for their diligence and outstanding work this year in developing classes online and in opening seats to meet continued demand from our new and returning students. Our heartfelt gratitude to the support divisions whose tireless efforts enabled students to be admitted, oriented, enrolled and retained – all steps that put our students one step closer to their ultimate educational goal of graduation. We also thank each of you for creating a welcoming campus environment, both online and in person, in spite of the challenges of doing so during a pandemic.
Our new enrollment figures are particularly promising in light of recent national headlines. Across the U.S., undergraduate enrollment is down 2.5% overall from a year ago according to recent data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. In comparison, our undergraduate enrollment has increased by 5.8%.
In addition to reporting strong enrollment, we also experienced substantial progress in our commitment to become a national model for student success. UTSA awarded a record 7,415 degrees in the 2019-2020 academic year, a 17% increase from just two years prior. Our first-year retention rate hit 80% this year—a nationally recognized benchmark—up from 77% in 2019 and 73% in 2018. Again, these results are due to your collective work in supporting Roadrunner students, and we thank you.
While our fall enrollment numbers are a positive sign, we must also acknowledge the uncertainties about the upcoming year and biennium. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we must maintain a conservative approach to our budget planning for the new fiscal year that has just begun. Our budgetary decisions were informed by our guiding principles and reinforced our primary responsibility to advance our students’ success and critical research. Our deeply collaborative and transparent budget planning enabled our university to meet our projected revenue shortfall for this fiscal year, and we must be mindful that it is hard to predict when we will see a full and stable economic recovery to pre-pandemic conditions.
In our discussion with the deans and academic leadership these past few months, their guidance has been to stay the course with prudent fiscal planning that preserves our ability to adapt to future unknowns and enables, to the degree possible, smooth operations to support our students, faculty and university community.
Thus, as an institution, we must actively engage in efforts now to retain our current students and support their success into the remainder of the academic year and beyond. Retaining our positive enrollment for the upcoming spring, summer and fall semesters will be absolutely essential to realizing any funding gains. Following the upcoming state legislative session in the spring, we can expect to learn more about what to anticipate in the coming year. Until then, we will continue to maintain our conservative stance in our budget process. Should the actualities prove better than expected, our Incentivized Resource Management (IRM) budget principles allow us to adjust course.
In the meantime, let’s take a moment to celebrate our collective successes. We knew the pandemic would impact higher education. Thanks to careful planning and innovative thinking, UTSA has been able to overcome those challenges so far. Looking forward, we will continue to make decisions that ensure our continued momentum toward our bold vision as a premier public research university.
Kimberly Andrews Espy
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Veronica Salazar Mendez
Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs