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UA considers limiting enrollment

Posted: November 20, 2011 - 12:24am

FAYETTEVILLE (AP) — University of Arkansas officials are considering limiting enrollment at the flagship campus in Fayetteville where close to 25,000 students are enrolled, the campus chancellor said.

Fall 2011 enrollment totaled a record 23,199 students, and Chancellor G. David Gearhart said Friday that applications from prospective freshman for fall 2012 are up about 30 percent, or about 800 over last fall.

Gearhart said 25,000 has long been considered an enrollment goal for the university, and leaders hoped to reach that number in 2015 or later, but based on the applications, they could hit the mark as early as next fall.

“We need to decide how far we can go and how far we want to go,” he told a state newspaper, saying a decision must be made on whether to limit the number of incoming students or make plans for new residential and academic buildings. 

More faculty also would be needed to accommodate the rising enrollment, Gearhart said.

The increase in enrollment could be slowed by raising academic requirements for admission or admitting fewer out-of-state students, according to campus officials.

“We feel that we could go larger,” Gearhart said. “But we want to be cautious. We want to do it through careful planning.”

UA System President Donald Bobbitt told the newspaper that decisions about limiting enrollment growth would have to originate on the Fayetteville campus and preparation for the growth should begin as early as possible.

“I think it’s never too early to have the conversation,” he said. “When problems sneak up on you, you tend to react non-strategically.”

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