UTEP attributes drop in enrollment to first-year students opting out during pandemic


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The University of Texas at El Paso says despite COVID-19 moving the majority of classes online for the Fall 2020 semester, their enrollment only decreased by 1.2 percent from Fall 2019, bolstered by increased retention rates.

UTEP says 24,879 students are enrolled at the university this semester. That’s a decrease from Fall 2019’s enrollment of 25,177. The university says the decline is almost entirely attributable to high school graduates who applied to college but decided to delay their freshman year during the pandemic.

According to UTEP President Heather Wilson, the decrease represents approximately 450 students who were anticipating the start of their college career this semester but held off due to COVID.

“As a community, we cannot afford to leave them behind. They will need a meaningful post-secondary credential to make a better life for themselves and their families,” Wilson said.

Although first-time freshmen and transfer student rates were down, UTEP saw an increase in returning sophomores (3.9%), juniors (3.3%), and seniors (3.4%).

“I want to commend our students for being dedicated to reaching their educational goals, and thank our faculty and staff for their tireless work in helping them stay on track to earn their degrees,” said Gary Edens, Ed.D., vice president for student affairs.

UTEP’s overall semester credit hour production increased slightly by 0.4%, from 263,739 in Fall 2019 to 265,924 for Fall 2020. UTEP reported a 15% increase in enrollment for the summer term just completed.

“We were pleased to see record-high retention and an increase in semester credit hours,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “The growth in these areas demonstrates that our students are working hard to earn their degrees. We’re proud of these talented, resilient Miners.”

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