University of Central Arkansas

UCA first-time undergraduate enrollment bests 1,800

One of the largest incoming freshman classes in the state

CONWAY—First-time, full-time undergraduate enrollment at the University of Central Arkansas for fall 2022 is 1,801 students, likely making it again the second-largest incoming freshman class among all four-year institutions in the state, according to preliminary data.

This figure marks the fifth time in six years that freshman enrollment has exceeded 1,800 with the fall of 2020 being the only outlier. Overall enrollment of 9,913 is 1.9% less than last year, with new freshmen, new transfers and new graduate students continuing to bolster sophomore and junior class counts impacted by the pandemic.

“We are excited about this new class of 2026 and know that they will do great work and build upon our traditions of excellence,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “Academically, their average high school GPA of 3.63 is second historically only to last year’s incoming class by just one-hundredth of a GPA point. They are poised to excel inside and outside of the classroom.”

Student retention has been a key focus of enrollment management efforts at the university. First-year students retained at a rate of 74.1% from fall 2021 to fall 2022, an increase of 3.4% from the previous academic year. Also notable was a 3.5% increase in the retention rate of minority first-year students.

UCA is also seeing steady annual growth in new transfer students. Transfers have increased for three straight years and this year by nearly 14%. New transfer student enrollment for fall 2022 is 552, up from 485 in fall 2021. Much of the total transfer enrollment at UCA can be attributed to transfer agreements with two-year institutions, with the majority of the enrollment coming from UCA’s Bear Partner institutions. Notably, this year’s new transfer cohort also includes a large number of transfers–144 students–from other in-state public and private universities and 152 from outside of Arkansas. Nearly 30% of all new transfer students have enrolled in the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences with its newly opened Integrated Health Sciences Building.

“While our market share of incoming freshman students has steadily increased over the past five years, it is our growth in retention of students and attractiveness to transfer students that is most exciting. Our faculty and staff make student engagement and success central parts of their work, and it is satisfying to know that students find an academic home and strong community at UCA,” Davis said.

Enrollment in UCA’s Graduate School also continues a second year of growth as fall 2022 enrollment numbers increased by 3.1%. Data for fall 2022 shows Graduate School enrollment totaling 1,919 students which is a significant increase of 199 total graduate students since fall of 2020.

“During challenging times for universities and colleges around the country, UCA is appreciative that students and their families know that they can turn to us as a choice university and find opportunities to shine and make their mark on the world,” Davis said. “Whether new to UCA or returning to our campus, we are proud to have all of them in Bear Country.”

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