As the 2009-10 academic year begins, the University of Washington Tacoma is bulging at the seams. A total headcount of more than 3,100 students are attending classes this autumn quarter, a 5 percent increase over a year ago.
Last year’s fall headcount, 2,965 students, was itself a nearly 12 percent jump from the previous year.
Applications for entering freshman and transfer students were very high this year. Freshman applications were up 15 percent and transfer applications were up 12 percent over 2008.
Like other state higher education institutions, UW Tacoma’s operating budget was severely cut.
Compared to autumn 2008, UW Tacoma’s full-time equivalent number, or FTE, increased by 6.5 percent. This reflects a trend toward more students who want to attend full time. The FTE for this autumn, 2,671, is a nearly 11 percent increase over the FTE funded by the state. By over-enrolling, UW Tacoma was able to accommodate an additional 250 FTE, primarily transfer students.
“Our over-enrollment is largely due to an increase in continuing students,” said Derek Levy, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment Services. “Our transition in 2006 to a four-year university has resulted in gradually larger lower-division and pre-major enrollment and, of course, these students need time to progress toward a degree.”
Levy added, “Over-enrollment allowed us to account for these students while also continuing our commitment to serving transfer students, our largest student population.”
Other census day demographics reveal some interesting points.
— The student body breaks down to 2,568 (82.5 percent) undergraduate and 543 (17.5 percent) graduate students.
— Enrollment of first-generation college students increased by about 20 percent in both transfers and freshmen.
— Continuing students make up about two-thirds of the student headcount, while new students make up the rest.
— Many of the students who entered as UW Tacoma’s first freshmen class in autumn 2006 are seniors now and are expected to graduate in June 2010.
— UW Tacoma students comprise a wide range of ages. The youngest currently enrolled student is 16 and the oldest is 72.
— Since admitting freshmen for the first time in 2006, the average age of UW Tacoma students has gradually dropped. The average age is 27.81 at present, compared to an average age of 30 in 2006.
— Students from 20 to 24 years old currently make up the largest age group, 31.7 percent of the student body. Students from 18 to 20 years of age make up 20.3 percent of the total. Students 25 to 29 years account for 20.4 percent. Students age 30 and older constitute 27.5 percent of all students.