The University of Tennessee at Martin reports 7,119 students enrolled for the 2020 fall semester, including both undergraduate and graduate students. This represents a 2.4% decrease over the fall 2019 enrollment of 7,296 students and ends three consecutive years of enrollment growth. Despite the decline in total student numbers, several positives are found in the final fall enrollment report prepared by the university’s Office of Institutional Research.
First-time freshmen were down 43 students compared to fall 2019; returning students increased by 34; and graduate students increased 205 or almost 40%. The university’s dual-enrollment program declined by 252 students compared to last fall, a likely reflection of the uncertainties faced by K-12 schools during the pandemic. Dual-enrollment courses offer college credit to high school students in West Tennessee and other parts of Tennessee.
“The pandemic is affecting higher education on several fronts and, given the health concerns and financial challenges facing our students and their families, this is really an amazing outcome,” UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver said. “Everyone is trying to adjust to these new circumstances, and I applaud our students, their families, and our outstanding faculty and staff for adjusting to the realities that we currently face. You always hope for better, but I’m extremely pleased with where the university is positioned moving forward.”
Also encouraging to Carver and university officials are the full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers that provide the basis for public university funding in Tennessee. Undergraduate FTE declined by 160 or 3% this fall compared to 2019, but graduate FTE rose by 123 or 42.5%. Overall FTE declined by 38 or .7%. FTE is determined by dividing undergraduate student credit hours by 15 and graduate hours by 12.
“We’re grateful to the state for its financial support of higher education during these uncertain economic times,” Carver said. “Our own UT System leadership and the UT Board of Trustees also continue to support the positive direction that we’re headed with our new Strategic Enrollment Plan. UT Martin is in good financial shape, which allows us to pursue our educational mission at a high level.”
UT Martin continues to earn solid regional and national rankings both for the university and individual academic programs. The four-year graduation rate has increased 14.4% since the start of the Soar in Four tuition program that was approved in 2016 by the UT Board of Trustees. Soar in Four encourages students to take at least 15 hours per semester in order to graduate in four years. Among other academic success stories are Skyhawk athletes who earned the highest combined grade point average in UT Martin history in spring 2020 with a 3.26 GPA.
UT Martin joined other University of Tennessee campuses by opening fall semester for in-person classes. Approximately half of UT Martin’s classes offered an in-person component, and all faculty members prepared to offer classes both face to face and online to allow for possibly changing conditions. The fall semester is also accelerated with the cancellation of fall break and classes ending by Thanksgiving. Final exams will then be offered online so that students do not return to the main campus or the five centers in Jackson, Parsons, Ripley, Selmer and Somerville for fall semester.
Plans for spring semester are still being determined. For more information, contact the UT Martin Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.