The University of Alabama at Birmingham has set an enrollment record for the fifth consecutive year, and reached a new milestone in retention rates for first-time, full-time students, with 86.4 percent returning this fall, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
UAB’s Office of Enrollment Management reports that the 2020 census of 22,563 students is the highest mark ever for the institution, with a 2 percent growth from 2019. The number of graduate students enrolled for the fall 2020 semester increased by 6 percent, with 7,512 students. In addition, in-state and out-of-state enrollment saw year-over-year increases, as did the professional student populations.
“All universities across the country are facing an uncertain time during the COVID-19 pandemic. UAB has been a leader in providing guidance, resources and support to ensure the safety of our students and communities during this time,” said Bradley Barnes, Ph.D., vice provost for Enrollment Management. “These efforts have increased the overall attractiveness of UAB and its curriculum, culture and opportunities provided to students. Potential students and their families see this. They see the growth and impact of our institution on all levels, and they want to be a part of it.”
UAB’s freshman class features 82.2 percent Alabamians. Alabamians represent 87.7 percent of UAB’s undergraduate student population. More than 350 freshmen, or 16.4 percent, are out-of-state students.
The academic quality of the UAB 2020 freshman class is the university’s strongest to date. The average freshman ACT score rose from 25.6 in fall 2019 to 25.9, and the average GPA increased from 3.78 to 3.83.
More freshmen are living on campus than ever also, with 72 percent of the 2020 freshman class living on campus. The increases continue to highlight the importance of several projects on campus, including Green Hall, which is slated to open next spring.
UAB continues to be one of the most diverse institutions in the country as well, with 42.5 percent of the student body representing minority populations. And 2,932 UAB undergraduate students have self-identified as first-generation college students — an increase of 3.4 percent from 2019.
“Our talented, diverse and deserving students have remained resilient during a time of many unknowns and constant change. We strive to provide accessible educational opportunity, unrivaled research experiences and academic programs that equip them for successful 21st century careers, all while protecting our students’ health and safety,” said Ray L. Watts, president of UAB. “Whether students are on-campus or attending classes virtually, it is important that we provide resources to help them be successful in and out of the classroom. Our faculty and staff are effectively mentoring and inspiring our students, united behind collaboration, innovation, diversity and all of our shared values. We will continue to forge ahead in all areas of our mission.”
The University of Alabama System has instituted a tuition freeze for in-state residents for the second year.
- The first in the United States for community outreach efforts around health and well-being, and No. 7 globally, in the recent Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2020.
- $600 million in research funding, an institutional milestone for UAB — with an extraordinary increase of $75 million in funding over one year.
- Funding from the Department of Defense to UAB also saw a dramatic increase, climbing by more than $7 million, or 63 percent.
- Designation as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities.
- $2.2 million investment in libraries over the last seven years to merge the existing campus libraries into a single unit, acquire new software, enhance facilities and hire more student-workers, all while remaining user-focused.
- A growing athletics program, competing at the highest level of Conference-USA across multiple sports.
UAB Senior Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit says the continued growth across the UAB enterprise is a positive reflection on many groups, including recent students and current faculty.
“Our students are learning in different ways this year. We are proud of their ability to adjust as the pandemic evolves and to be successful in their academics,” Benoit said. “Our faculty has made many adjustments to provide a quality educational experience for our students. They have proved to be resilient and flexible in providing a world-class education to our students.”