UHV enrollment defying national trends

The University of Houston-Victoria continues to see double-digit annual percentage growth in student enrollment, according to spring semester enrollment numbers released Wednesday.

The student population of UHV grew to 3,260 this semester, a 12.6 percent growth when compared with spring 2008. It’s the largest semester enrollment ever seen at UHV. This follows a 14 percent enrollment growth comparing the fall 2007 semester to fall 2008.

In contrast, during the last five years, total enrollment at Texas public universities has grown 0.5 to 1.5 percent annually, according to state records.

Defying national trends, spring enrollment at UHV also grew 87 students from the fall 2008 total of 3,174.

“Traditionally, the spring semester at universities across the country has fewer students than the fall,” UHV Registrar Trudy Wortham said. “It’s common for some students who start in the fall to not return in the spring for various reasons. It’s unusual to see solid growth like this.”  

UHV’s rapid enrollment growth means a lot of hard work is bearing sweet fruit, UHV President Tim Hudson said.

“Everyone at UHV works constantly to position the university as a great value for our students,” Hudson said. “We have enriched our programs with new degrees in fields such as nursing, achieved national accreditation in other areas such as business, and expanded the availability of our programs through investments in Web-based courses.”

In a slowing economy where the demand for higher education usually increases, prospective students are finding UHV to be the answer to their needs. During difficult financial times many people return to school to update their skills, change careers or gain a competitive edge in the workplace, Hudson said.

“More people are choosing to invest in education,” he said. “That’s a wise thing to do because an education pays dividends for a lifetime.”

In addition, students are paying close attention to costs, which often draws them to UHV since it is one of the least expensive universities in Texas.

“More students are finding they can get a top-quality degree from UHV for thousands of dollars less than other universities,” Hudson said. “A UHV degree will allow them to get the same job as a degree from a larger state institution. The difference is our graduates get to keep more of their new salary and spend less of it repaying student loans.”

Many of those degrees being sought are in business.

“We’ve had several standing-room-only classes for our courses offered in Sugar Land and Katy,” said Jifu Wang, interim dean of the UHV School of Business Administration.

The business school grew by 25 percent, or 271 students, when comparing spring 2008 with this semester. It was the strongest numerical growth of the four UHV schools.

UHV saw its strongest growth in the Houston area, where enrollment in Harris and Fort Bend counties grew by 19.2 percent, from 1,582 students in spring 2008 to 1,886 in 2009. UHV offers courses at the University of Houston System at Sugar Land and UHS at Cinco Ranch.

The university also saw strong growth in both Hispanic and black student enrollment. Hispanic enrollment increased 6.5 percent from last spring, while black enrollment increased 23.6 percent.

“Through our outreach programs, we’ve been able to help many people achieve their dreams of a college education who never thought such a thing was possible,” said Denee Thomas, manager of the Letting Education Achieve Dreams (LEAD) program, an initiative at UHV that focuses on increasing enrollment among Hispanics and other minorities, first-generation college students and other underrepresented populations.

Both the Hispanic and black populations in Texas have lower educational attainment levels than the general population as a whole. About 9 percent of Hispanics in Texas and 15 percent of black residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared with 23 percent of the state population as a whole, according to data from the 2000 U.S. Census.

Administrators expect overall enrollment at UHV to continue to grow and possibly accelerate in the future.

“UHV’s continued growth and prosperity is a credit to our wonderful faculty, staff and community supporters,” Hudson said. “If the Legislature grants us permission to expand to a full four-year, destination university, we expect to see even stronger growth and development.”

For more information about UHV, visit or call 361-570-4848.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342