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UT, TJC enrollment impacted by thriving local economy

Cory McCoy - Tyler Morning Telegraph

Cory McCoy - Tyler Morning Telegraph - February 9, 2018

A healthy economy is making a dent in local college enrollment numbers.

The University of Texas at Tyler and Tyler Junior College have released enrollment numbers for the Spring 2018 semester.

TJC's overall Spring 2018 enrollment remained steady with 11,255 students, according to a news release from the school.

 

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board sets the census date for official reporting for reimbursement by the state for all public colleges as the 12th day of a full semester.

The 11,255 student count represents a 1.5 percent decrease from Spring 2017, which was a record-setting 7.3 percent (year over year) increase for the college - with 11,427 students.  

The college said although this semester's overall count is slightly lower, TJC's 13 percent enrollment growth over the past five years has been significant. 

TJC officials said the college continues to focus on recruiting from the East Texas area and is attracting high-achieving students, as evidenced by a 5.6 percent increase in students earning President’s and Dean’s List recognition last fall.   

The University of Texas at Tyler saw a 4 percent enrollment increase over Spring 2017, with 9,598 students enrolled. UT Tyler is continuing a streak of record enrollment, but did not reach the 9.5 percent gain it saw last spring. 

 

Since the 2012-13 school year, UT Tyler has seen its enrollment grow from 6,875 to 10,527 in the fall and 6,581 to 9,598 in the spring.

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UT Tyler enrollment trend

“We were pleased to be able to retain so many students from our record fall enrollment,” said Lucas Roebuck, chief communications officer for UT Tyler. “Like nearly all universities, we see enrollment melt from fall to spring, including the 1,448 we graduated during the Fall Commencement in December. When you factor out the fall graduates, we had a net gain of around 500 students.”

Sarah Bowdin, UT Tyler assistant vice president for enrollment management, said she is optimistic the school will continue to see enrollment growth, citing interest driven by recent news such as the college’s NCAA Division II Athletics application and the college being named first in the state and fifth in the nation for its online graduate nursing program.

Tom Mullins, president of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, said an enrollment dip is a sign of a good economy.

 

“When people find work, they tend to put off school,” Mullins said. “Our employment rate is around 4 percent; that’s below the state average and national. It says nearly everyone who wants a job has one.”

Mullins said after several years of a downturn in the energy sector, the Tyler area is seeing big gains as those jobs come back.

“Our (local) production companies and manufacturing companies, just about everybody in the energy sector is busy,” Mullins said. “In fact they’re kind of competing for workers now that oil prices are up.”

Mullins also said a construction boom is creating demand for workers, pointing to projects such as Sanderson Farms investing in the area, Tyler ISD’s $198 million high school reconstruction package and new University of Texas facilities being built – the $56 million College of Business and Technology at UT Tyler and the $39 million School of Community and Rural Health at the UT Health Northeast campus.