North Texas Daily

UNT sees record enrollment with 39,330 students

UNT sees record enrollment with 39,330 students

UNT sees record enrollment with 39,330 students
September 27
11:14 2019

At UNT, 39,330 students are now enrolled, according to the unofficial figures released by the university. The enrollment numbers will be verified later in the fall by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

This enrollment growth is a 3.3 percent increase from the 2018-2019 academic year. In addition to the overall record increase, UNT admitted its largest freshman class in school history with 5,522 students. 

UNT President Neal Smatresk attributes the overall record enrollment in undergraduate and graduate students to the positive qualities the university holds. 

“We had a great year with offering scholarships to folks, and I believe that the combination of the good news about the university, our residential opportunities, and the fact that our campus is just beautiful, along with the fact that we have really embraced the concept of building a strong and inclusive community, all conspire to have given us the best enrollment we’ve ever seen,” Smatresk said. 

The increase of first time college students is a 15.3 percent increase from the previous academic year. 

“We’re not the business of turning away qualified students,” Smatresk said. “When we have people who choose us as their first choice and they’re well qualified, we want to bring them into our community and encourage them to be successful and to graduate.”

32 National Merit Scholars were admitted in the record-breaking freshman class. 

“We didn’t just admit the biggest freshman class that we ever had,” Smatresk said. “We admitted one of the most qualified freshman classes we have ever had. So it wasn’t just a bigger class, it was a better class. So when you get bigger and better together, what’s not to like.”

The increase in enrollment “was hoped for” by Smatresk but still beat expectations. 

“You know, you always hope for the best and plan for the worst,” Smatresk said. “While it was hoped for, I don’t think I expected it to be just this good. I think it’s likely that on a statewide basis, higher ed populations are a little bit down and we’re bucking that trend. We’re up, and that says really good things about the university.”

Social Work and Rehabilitation Studies senior Izabella Briseno discussed the enrollment increase in class after noticing more crowding than usual around campus on the first day of classes.

“I think it’s good for the fact people going to college, and choosing UNT, but there’s this huge influx of people, and I feel like it wasn’t thought through a lot,” Briseno said. “There’s no parking, classes are massively over capacitated, and the veterans of UNT feel output or put to the side.”

Finance junior Elijah Val Verde has noticed the increase of students on campus in the Union and Willis Library.

“Overall I think it’s a good thing,” Val Verde said. “It shows that UNT is growing at a rapid pace. I feel like the increase in enrollment will also draw the attention of employers because, at least in the business world, firms like to look at students from bigger schools.”

The increase in enrollment numbers comes with both benefits and challenges. 

“On one hand, it’s good that more students want to come to UNT, but on the other I do not believe that UNT has made proper accommodations for this big influx of freshmen,” Val Verde said. “I think the biggest challenge is going to be finding space for UNT to keep growing.”

One of the major effects of the 5,522 freshmen admitted was overselling in dormitories. Some of the temporary solutions to the influx are freshmen being housed in upperclassmen halls, rooming with Resident Assistants, single-occupancy rooms being converted into double-occupancy and buyout offers were extended to 177 upperclassmen.  

“We can only build a residence halls at a limited rate, every time we build a new residence hall, it goes on our bonding and that changes the rates for all of our residential population,” Smatresk said. “I think we now have to begin to think about how we can accommodate more students through alternative means, like public private partnerships, building opportunities for our students who engage on our campus, but trying to limit the bonding liability that we have that would drive up costs for our students to live here.”

In addition to the increase in the number of students, there was an increase in diversity this year as well. There was a 6 percent increase in Hispanic students, a 5.7 percent increase in African-American students and a 10.2 percent increase in Asian/Pacific Islander students.

Nearly 80 percent of last year’s freshman class returned to UNT this fall. 

“I’m just really proud of how our community stepped up last year around retention to go the extra mile to make it happen,” Smatresk said. “And there’s not enough ways for me to thank the faculty and staff members at the university from making that big difference.”

Featured Illustration: Zahraa Hassan

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Kiara St. Clair

Kiara St. Clair

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