UAA: Enrollment and graduation rates on the decline

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(App users, to view this interactive data visualization, follow this link).

Data is sourced from the University of Alaska Anchorage 2016 Performance Measure report along with Common Data Set reports from 2006-2007 through 2016-2017.

In regards to UAA Graduation Rate by Class, data excludes students who 1) Started in the spring semester, 2) Were part-time in the first semester, 3) Transferred-in or 4) Enrolled in a graduate-degree seeking program.

Examine the interactive data visualization, above, to:
- Compare UAA's six-year baccalaureate degree rates to three-year associate degree and certification rates, between the graduating classes of 2007 through 2016.
- Compare the number of degrees UAA awarded to their graduating students, by type, between 2007 through 2016.
- And compare the number of UAA's enrolled students, as of Oct. 15 of the school year, from 2007 through 2016.

At UAA, the graduating class of 2015 saw three-year associate degree and certification rates increase by 6 percent, compared to the previous year. But then in 2016, this rate decreased from 20.4 percent to 12.2 percent.

While this fluctuation in trend rates appears to be abnormal, UAA's administrators would like to remind readers that the numbers of students being awarded three-year associated degrees and certifications is relatively small, compared to the whole. As a result, small numeral fluctuations may result in larger rate changes.

Moreover, the university most likely did not create any specific strategies to causes this trend jump.

As Holmes explained, "We don't recall we had any intentional interventions, there."

Both student enrollment and graduation rates at UAA are down. But university officials say they are not worried, as they hope the new numbers mean a turn around in the economy.

Enrollment numbers have been going down for a few years, starting in 2011. That is when the recession started impacting almost everything, including the university system.

In 2011, 17,890 total undergraduate students were enrolled at UAA, according to the university's submitted Common Data Set (CDS) report. Whereas, in 2016, only 15,703 students undergraduates were enrolled.

This year, among all UAA students, which includes four nearby colleges, enrollment numbers are down 3.4 percent, compared to this time last year.

And for the Anchorage campus alone, enrollment numbers are down 1.9 percent.

"The trend of the downward enrollment from 2011 - it was not unexpected, and it's tied to the population of Anchorage," said Bruce Schultz, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs of UAA. "It is tied to the population of high school students that has steadily declined, since 2011. All indicators are, we are now at the bottom of that decline. And the increase that we're seeing now is what we're going to see over the next couple of years."

And according to recent studies, credit enrollment is also down. Its downward trajectory began in 2011, as there were 7,838 full time undergraduate students. And by 2016, this number decreased to 6,560 full time students.

However, UAA officials look at the number of credit hours as a big positive.

"We're only down 1.7 percent in credit hours," added Schultz. "So that is telling us, students understand the importance of full credit hours, which for us that's 15 credits. So we have more students who are choosing to be full time."

KTUU asked for statewide numbers today, but we were told that those would not be available, until October.

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