UHV student count up, VC's flat after Harvey

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Sept. 29, 2017 at 9 p.m.
Updated Sept. 30, 2017 at 6 a.m.

   contributed photo for The Victoria Advocate

Preliminary enrollment figures show more students attending the University of Houston-Victoria this fall than the previous year despite Hurricane Harvey.

"It's exciting to see UHV's enrollment growing," UHV President Vic Morgan said. "This increase is a sign of more good things to come as we continue to build a destination university."

The university had 4,429 students enrolled as of Wednesday, an increase of 6.9 percent over final enrollment numbers a year ago, according to a news release.

The university also has 621 students living in its residence halls, an increase from the occupancy rate a year ago.

"Seeing this high occupancy rate is exciting, especially considering the setback the university experienced after Hurricane Harvey with classes starting two weeks late," said Jay Lambert, vice president for student affairs.

The university saw growth in undergraduate student enrollment for both new and returning students, according to a news release.

There are 988 new undergraduates, an increase of 28 percent compared with fall 2016 final enrollment. The university also saw a 3.2 percent increase in undergraduate student retention.

All three academic schools have seen growth in undergraduate enrollment from the previous year's final figures.

The School of Arts and Sciences saw a 13.2 percent increase.

Undergraduate enrollment in the School of Education, Health Professions and Human Development increased 5.1 percent. The School of Business Administration grew 1.6 percent.

Students are also enrolled in more credit hours.

Students are taking a total of 40,880 credit hours, a 5.9 percent increase in final figures from the previous fall.

Several strategies have been created by university officials to attract new students.

In addition to the website redesign, the university's recruiters have traveled to different regions of the state to reach students and build relationships.

The university also has made connections through encouraging students and their families to visit campus during personal tours, Jaguar Days and other open house events.

Final fall enrollment figures will be released later in the semester after certification from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Although UHV's enrollment increased, Victoria College saw a decrease in students returning after the hurricane.

The head count for Victoria College is flat compared to last year, said Edrel Stoneham, director of enrollment services.

Leading up to the hurricane, enrollment was up, he said.

"Due to things outside of our control, we did lose students," Stoneham said. "Our enrollment head count is flat, so we didn't drop or increase officially."

The preliminary head count is at 3,988 students, he said.

This time last year there was a little more than 4,000 students.

About 124 students dropped after returning after Hurricane Harvey, he said. About 40 percent of those students dropped because of hurricane-related issues.

When a student drops, they file a form to the advising office which includes their reason for dropping.

"For instance, if financial, they may not have been working due to businesses being closed because of Harvey," he said. "When we hear it is something financial, we do try our best to assist students."

The emotional toll combined with other factors can impact students, he said.

"When you're going through something of this magnitude, it can be isolating," he said. "To have someone reach out saying if there is anything we can do, that goes a long way."

Administrators advised faculty to report students who were not present for their classes when they returned and for each day thereafter, he said.

The information was sent to the advising office to contact those students for follow-ups, he said.

"Anything the college could do, we were stepping in to do so," Stoneham said.

The college is up about 2 percent in contact hours, which means students are enrolling in more classes, he said.

School officials are planning to recapture the students who dropped because of the hurricane, he said.

For the students who were lost in the hurricane's timeframe, officials are reaching out to notify them about spring enrollment.

The college's second fall enrollment for other course plans is opening later, he said. These sessions have the potential to increase the preliminary enrollment number.



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