By Tyler Greer
The University of Alabama at Birmingham has set an enrollment record for the fourth consecutive year, and reached a new milestone — growing its student body to more than 22,000 students for the first time in its 50-year history.
UAB’s Office of Enrollment Management reports that the 2019 census of 22,080 students is the highest mark ever for the institution, which is celebrating its 50th year in 2019. The number of first-time freshmen entering UAB rose 2 percent from 2018, with 2,346 enrolled this fall. In addition, in-state, out-of-state and international enrollment all saw year-over-year increases, as did the graduate and professional student populations.
“In an increasingly competitive landscape where colleges and universities around the country continue to experience declines in enrollment, the attractiveness of UAB continues to grow — which says a lot about our curriculum, our culture and the opportunities provided to students,” said Bradley Barnes, Ph.D., vice provost for Enrollment Management. “We strive to deliver students a world-class education and engaging research opportunities. We also endeavor to graduate students who will contribute to a 21st century economy and become positive, influential leaders. Potential students and their families see this. They see the growth and impact of our institution, and they want to be a part of it.”
The University of Alabama System instituted a tuition freeze for in-state residents in time for the current school year, and UAB’s freshman class features 81.9 percent Alabamians, or 1,922 students. Alabamians represent 85 percent of UAB’s undergraduate student population. More than 350 freshmen, or 15 percent, are out-of-state students.
The academic quality of the UAB 2019 freshman class is the university’s strongest to date. The average freshman ACT score rose from 25.2 in fall 2018 to 25.6, and the average GPA increased from 3.73 to 3.78.
More freshmen are living on campus than ever also, with 71.4 percent of the 2019 freshman class living on campus. The increases continue to highlight the importance of several projects on campus, including the new Residence Hall 2020, which is slated to open next fall.
UAB continues to be one of the most diverse institutions in the country as well, with 41.9 percent of the student body representing minority populations. And 2,836 UAB undergraduate students have self-identified as first-generation college students — an increase of 2.2 percent from 2018.
“These talented, diverse and deserving students are attracted to our campus in increasing numbers by accessible educational opportunity, unrivaled research experiences and academic programs that equip them for successful 21st century careers,” said Ray L. Watts, president of UAB. “These students are also drawn to a campus that is among the most vibrant, state-of-the-art and sustainable in the nation, with the recent opening of our new University Hall, a shining example of how our campus continues to transform. 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 record-breaking enrollment underscores the historic strides UAB has made in the past year. These include:
- The Top Young U.S. University for the second consecutive year, and No. 12 globally, in the recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
- $527 million in research awards, the highest ever for UAB — with award increases in every school on campus.
- One of only eight schools of medicine nationally to increase their NIH funding by more than $100 million over five years.
- Exceeding the $1 billion goal of The Campaign for UAB, the largest philanthropic effort in the university’s history — which also included the largest-ever gift of $30 million to name the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- 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 and graduates are proud of the world-class, interdisciplinary programs they can be a part of here,” Benoit said. “Our faculty delivers a socially conscious education to diverse students to prepare them to be the next generation of citizens and leaders.”