UT-Austin’s four-year graduation rate reaches all-time high, despite failing 2012 goal

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Despite still falling short of their goal set in 2012, the University’s four-year graduation rate has reached an all-time high, officials announced on Thursday.

The class of 2018 set a record for the University’s four-year graduation rate at 69.8 percent, according to a press release.

“UT-Austin continues to see significant progress in improving graduation rates for all students,” Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost, said in the press release. “Our entire campus has worked hard to achieve these results, and I want to give particular credit to our students who have focused on their academic goals and changed the culture.”

The University set a goal in 2012 to increase the four-year graduation rate by 2016 from 52.5 percent to 70 percent. After the rate rose to 60.9 percent in 2016, the goal was later adjusted to 2017. 

Last year, the University’s four-year graduation rate was 65.7 percent.

Rachelle Hernandez, senior vice provost for enrollment management, said although the University did not meet its goal, they are focused on the progress that the campus has made.

“We will continue working with our students … toward increasing our four-year graduation rate,” Hernandez said. “This growth is really remarkable. But what’s most important here is that we are sending a strong message to our students that they are valued members of our community and that their success is our focus.” 

The percentage of first-generation students graduating in four years increased from 40.9 percent in 2012 to 61.5 percent. Four-year graduation rates also increased from 42.9 percent in 2012 to 63.7 percent for Hispanic students and from 36.6 percent in 2012 to 58.4 percent for African American students.

“UT has been able to narrow gaps in completing a degree that have persisted for too long for low-income students and students of color,” President Gregory Fenves said in a press release. “Giving students more opportunity to graduate while increasing the number of students UT educates exemplifies our core mission as a flagship university serving the people of Texas.”

The four year-graduation rate has continued to increase because of new student success programs, including a greater emphasis on graduating in four years, data analysis of course progression among students and the creation of multiple groups on campus for first-years.

“We want to give (freshmen the) tools to navigate the campus and make it easy for them to feel like they’re part of that community and that they have the tools they need to be successful,” Hernandez said. 

Due to the increase in graduation rates, the University also has expanded the size of its incoming freshman class by more than 1,000 students since 2012. The University welcomed 8,960 first-time freshmen in 2018, the largest incoming class in UT-Austin’s history.

“This is allowing us to help students move through their courses, and that course progression frees up those first-year classes,” Hernandez said. “Our students who are coming as first-year students are now able to take full advantage of all of the opportunities on campus.”