Admissions to become more selective at UA

By Laura Ory
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 13, 2005

Student enrollment at Arizona universities is on the rise, but the UA has a plan to cap the student population at 40,000 to create a more optimal education environment.

Projections estimate that enrollment in the state's universities will increase from 115,000 students to 185,000 students by 2020, according to Arizona Board of Regents documents.

The UA enrolled a record 5,974 freshman students this year, but President Peter Likins said the number is not likely to increase by much because the university will cap off freshman enrollment at 6,000 students. There are 37,036 students currently enrolled at the university.

The maximum number of students that can be enrolled at the UA will be 40,000 graduate and undergraduate students, a number determined by planners to be the right capacity for the UA to maintain the character value and outdoor space of the campus, Likins said.

But while the number of the students won't be increasing much more, Likins said, the quality will.

"We're focusing on becoming better, not bigger," he said.

The UA's redesign implementation plan, approved by the regents earlier this month, addresses the expected rapid growth of the number of university students in Arizona in the next 15 years, said Anne Barton, a regent spokeswoman.

As the number of applicant's continues to grow, the number of students admitted to the UA will stay the same, making it possible for the UA to increase its admissions standards, Likins said.

The UA will begin to narrow down admittance to the top 25 percent of graduating Arizona high school students instead of the top 50 percent, according to the redesign plans. But this change will be gradual, Likins said, because some students who are in the top 50 percent of their graduating class will still be admitted next year.

Scott Cason, director of marketing for UA Enrollment Management, said some people believe that increasing admissions standards will cause the enrollment of minorities in the university to decrease, but this is not the reality. The admissions process has become more fair and inclusive of minority students than in the past and attracts more serious students, Cason said.

Nate Olivarez-Giles, the university relation's representative for the UA's Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano Aztlan chapter, said he doesn't think the number of minority students will increase next year when admissions starts to become more selective.

Olivarez-Giles, a Mexican American studies junior, said he believes the more important issue is minority recruitment rather than selective enrollment.

"When I go to the high schools I see military recruitment fliers but it's hard to find an application to the UA," Olivarez-Giles said.