The University of Cincinnati blew past its own enrollment projections this week as the official headcount landed at 46,798 students for fall semester.
That’s 410 more than last year’s all-time high and represents the eighth straight year of record-setting enrollment. In addition, the university held the line on retention with 88% of first-year students returning.
UC officials say the achievement is even more remarkable given the COVID-19 pandemic and state and national trends where the majority of colleges and universities are experiencing significant enrollment declines.
Members of UC’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy work inside a laboratory. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand
“As you look at the landscape of higher education nationally, there are very few if any universities of our caliber and reputation that are able to say that they are growing and have continued to grow over the past eight years,” says Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management. “I think that growth represents a student endorsement of the direction we are going and the quality programs that we have.”
At public universities, the tally isn’t official until the “census” date, the 15th day of the fall term, which was September 8 for UC.
Eight straight years of record enrollment
- 2020 — 46,798
- 2019 — 46,388
- 2018 — 45,949
- 2017 — 44,783
- 2016 — 44,338
- 2015 — 44,251
- 2014 — 43,691
- 2013 — 42,656
Most diverse student body
The statistics show not only the highest-ever total number of students, but campus is also more diverse than ever.Nearly one in four first-year students this year are minorities, and the total number of minority students who call themselves Bearcats rose to just over 23%.
“We were able to stand by the university’s commitment to diversity in making sure that higher education is an affordable opportunity for all students, and we are continuing our commitment to have a diverse student body,” says Miner.
“WE WERE ABLE TO STAND BY THE UNIVERSITY’S COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY IN MAKING SURE THAT HIGHER EDUCATION IS AN AFFORDABLE OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS, AND WE ARE CONTINUING OUR COMMITMENT TO HAVE A DIVERSE STUDENT BODY.“
Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management
DAAP student Vidushi Shrivastava pauses inside UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand
Keys to success
UC leaders point to several factors that have made the university so popular, even during one of the most challenging periods in the history of higher education.
- UC prepared for its fall return by developing program-specific plans to respond to COVID-19 based on needs for online or in-person instruction. Roughly 76% of coursework is online this semester.
- The university attracted 700 more transfer students this year than normal, a 32% increase over 2019, including a significant number of transfers from surrounding universities into UC Clermont.
- Enrollment in UC Online, the university’s platform for fully online education, has surged by 14% for fall semester over the same time last year, an indication that the pandemic has allowed more working adults the opportunity to return to the university to complete their degree.
- The university dedicated more than $6 million in new financial aid to students this year.
- UC maintained its commitment to cooperative education, whether that meant helping students land in-person co-ops or virtual co-ops. UC students earn a collective $75 million annually working for about 1,300 international employers via their co-op work placements, alternating academic semesters with professional, paid work directly tied to their majors.
Miner says that even throughout the pandemic UC held tightly to the principles behind the “Bearcat Promise,” a significant element of UC’s Next Lives Here strategic direction in which the university ensures students will graduate on time with not only a degree but also a defined career path.