AUSTIN, Texas — In a new report from the American Talent Initiative (ATI), The University of Texas at Austin is one of five colleges and universities highlighted for its success expanding opportunity and boosting graduation rates for low- and moderate-income students.
The report, “Funding Socioeconomic Diversity at High Performing Colleges and Universities,” analyzes strategies that have allowed the five institutions to increase student opportunities despite budgetary constraints. The other four institutions are the University of California at Berkeley, University of Richmond, Vassar College and Franklin & Marshall College.
The report’s key findings on UT Austin include:
- Since 2010, the four-year graduation rate increased from 50 percent to 60.9 percent in 2016 despite capacity and budget challenges.
- Predictive modeling enhanced the university’s ability to make efficient use of financial aid and support.
- One-time discretionary funding from UT System enabled administrators to create programs to support students.
Authors Martin Kurzweil and Jessie Brown of Ithaka S+R praised UT Austin’s use of data analytics: “To pursue its student success goals while navigating complex budgetary constraints, UT Austin has relied on a sophisticated use of predictive analytics to target its resources. On the budgetary side, the university has used analytics to inform administrative streamlining initiatives, staffing reductions and facilities management that have freed up funds for need-based financial aid and other student-focused programs.”
Informed by analytics, UT Austin created intensive support programs, particularly for first-year students in its largest colleges, note the authors.
“The reason UT has been so successful in increasing graduation rates is the result of many different programs. Data is essential to everything we do in higher ed now so we can use our resources effectively,” said Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost at UT Austin.
The report also notes successful strategies common to all five highlighted universities. Leaders at all five “visibly committed to and communicated about goals for increasing opportunity and have framed these aims as good for their institutions as well as for the broader public,” write the authors. They phased in institutional changes, engaging faculty members and key stakeholders in a gradual process of change. And they used data to target financial aid and identify cost-cutting opportunities.
ATI is a new partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen Institute, Ithaka S+R and a growing alliance of colleges and universities with a collective goal to educate 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at 270 colleges and universities by 2025.
To learn more about UT Austin programs designed to promote student success, visit studentsuccess.utexas.edu.