Enrollment increased slightly at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, while it remained flat at North Central Texas College.
The numbers are unofficial 12th class day numbers. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will verify them later in the semester.
UNT’s spring enrollment is 33,715 students, a 0.6 percent increase from spring 2012, when 33,505 students were enrolled.
For enrollment to grow in the spring, it indicates UNT has more continuing students, university spokeswoman Kelley Reese said. A spring gain is a retention gain, she added.
Retention was an ongoing topic during the November UNT Board of Regents meeting because it was down.
UNT has been working on its follow-up program with students to ensure they graduate. The programs have faculty and staff pay attention to students who are struggling and might need help, Reese said.
“We aren’t just interested in enrolling students,” Reese said. “We want them to graduate.”
She said she is pleased, but the rates can always improve.
Graduation rates also were up for UNT. Undergraduate graduation was up about 2 percent in 2012, while graduate student graduation was up about 1 percent.
TWU’s enrollment also increased this semester.
The university’s spring enrollment is 14,221 students, up from 14,028 in spring 2012.
Increased enrollment in the spring means improved retention, Nicholas said.
“The key to spring growth for us is improving the retention of students,” he said.
Nicholas said TWU has been increasing its efforts for academic support and scholarship support.
But funding for universities isn’t based on headcount enrollment; it’s based on semester credit hours.
UNT students are taking 377,000 semester credit hours this spring, up from 372,000 credit hours in spring 2012. An undergraduate student takes an average of about 12 credit hours.
TWU students are taking 140,432 credit hours, up 2.6 percent from spring 2012.
“They are up more than the head count [enrollment], which is an indicator that students are carrying more hours on average,” Nicholas said.
And more courses means students are more likely to graduate on time, he said, which is good for the university.
The state tracks a student’s time to earn a degree, preferring a freshman finish in four years, he said.
Undergraduate students have to take a minimum of 12 hours to be considered full time. Graduate students have to take a minimum of nine hours to be considered full time.
TWU is expecting to maintain momentum in the fall.
“We’re running 11 percent ahead for the fall applications at the freshmen level,” Nicholas said.
Transfers are also ahead for the fall, he said.
University and college officials all agree that spring enrollment tends to be lower than fall enrollment.
Enrollment at NCTC remained about the same as last spring, with 9,365 students enrolled this semester at all its campuses combined.
It was a five-student increase over last spring, said Billy Roessler, vice president of student services at NCTC.
The Corinth campus had a 0.4 percent increase, from 5,700 in 2012 to 5,721 in 2013.
Flower Mound, NCTC’s newest campus, had a 14.9 percent increase from 2012. Enrollment for its third spring semester is 1,482.
“For us, as community colleges, our funding is based on our contact hours for our year,” Roessler said.
“It boils down to the amount of time they [students] are in the classroom.”
For the year, semester hours have gone up, he said. But for the semester, they are down slightly.
NCTC students are taking about 1.5 million contact hours, down about 1 percent from spring 2012.
He said the new meningitis law that went into effect last year could have played a part in community colleges having decreases in enrollment, but economic decline also could still be playing a part.
Sometimes people return to work instead of taking classes when there is a downturn in the economy, Roessler said.
“We’d like to have growth, but when you’re continuing and maintaining, it’s better than the alternative of decreasing,” he said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.