Total, freshman enrollment drops

After enrolling a record number of students last year, UK has announced a drop in freshman, undergraduate and graduate enrollment this year.

Preliminary numbers released Friday reported an overall enrollment of 26,625 students for the 2007-08 academic year, 600 fewer students than last year.

Last year, a record 4,190 new students enrolled at UK, 348 more than the year before. For the 2007-08 academic year, 3,922 students enrolled, a 6.4 percent decrease.

“We intentionally held the class size down in order to make progress with the expansion of our faculty and the lowering of student-faculty ratios,” said UK Provost Kumble Subbaswamy.

Before the number of enrolled students increases again, faculty size and research space must also increase, Subbaswamy said

“Each year we will make an assessment of capacity and improvement in student success rates before deciding on the freshman class size,” Subbaswamy said.

UK’s Top 20 Business Plan calls for enrollment to increase to 34,000 students, about 7,500 students more than are currently enrolled.

The business plan also calls for an increase in diversity among UK faculty, staff and students.

For the 2007-08 academic year, 260 black freshmen enrolled at UK, 6.6 percent of this year’s incoming class. Last year, 296 black students, or 7 percent, enrolled in the freshman class.

Subbaswamy said the decline in black freshman enrollment is due to a decrease in the total number of admitted students.

The overall number of black students enrolled this year is 1,419, an increase of 30 people from last year.

“The number of African-American students is the second-highest in the institution’s history, and African-American enrollment is up overall at UK,” Subbaswamy said. “That’s a reflection of our commitment to diversity and I also think is illustrative of the success we’ve had in previous recruitment efforts for both diverse students and faculty.”

The number of transfer students is also down this year, from 1,175 in 2006 to 864.

“We have only anecdotal evidence, but we believe in our conversations with educators across the state that transfer numbers overall may be down,” Subbaswamy said. “We won’t know actual numbers for a few months, but we are committed to studying this issue in greater detail and finding some solutions.”

In a Sept. 11 report, Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education said a record 4,478 Kentucky Community and Technical College system students transferred to four-year institutions in Kentucky, up 100 students from last year. Of those transfers, 755 went to UK, according to the report.

Fewer graduate students are at UK this year; there are 5,714, compared with 5,866 last year. Subbaswamy said the loss in graduate students is “largely cyclical.”

“We had a high number of graduates last year from master’s degree and doctoral programs,” Subbaswamy said. “We are simply ramping back up.”

Overall, the decrease in students at UK is an effort to meet UK’s top-20 goals, Subbaswamy said.

“It is important for us to focus as much, if not more, on retention and graduation rates as on admissions alone,” Subbaswamy said. “That is what we are undertaking.”

“Last year, we had anticipated enrollment would be 3,800 or 3,900,” said UK spokesman Jay Blanton. “So this year we doubled to cap that enrollment at 4,000.”