The increase of new faces on campus this semester was no accident. In fact, it was part of the plan.
“New freshmen enrollment is up and it is up by design,” said Director of Admissions Bob Spatig. “The University had targeted more freshmen for summer and fall 2010 and fewer transfer students.”
According to the USF website, the total number of students enrolled at the Tampa campus has increased by about 1,700 since fall 2007.
Spatig said the University would like to maintain a student population of about 40,000. According to the website, the population after the drop/add period was 40,433, with the number of transfer students down by 12 percent and graduate students down by 2.8 percent since 2009.
“As a research institution, we want to balance the number of undergraduates and graduate students,” he said. “We want to be the best, not the biggest. We want to serve our 40,000 students in the best way possible. Our future lies in quality, not quantity.”
Spatig said a steady population is a necessity in the face of state budget cuts. USF is the only state institution that has not cut any degree programs or tenure-track faculty members.
With the increase of students this semester, the median SAT score for first-time college students, which factors into college rankings by news publications, has dipped by about 20 points, according to the university website. The U.S. News & World Report ranked USF as 183rd of National Universities in selectivity and graduation rates behind the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Central Florida.
The median ACT score has dropped by 3.8 percent to 25 and the average high school GPA has decreased by 0.5 percent to 3.81.
Despite the decreasing numbers, Paul Dosal, director of Office of Student Success, said he believes USF is on the rise.
“We want to see success in academics and bring in more students,” Dosal said. “We want to hit on every measure, every year.”
Along with other Florida colleges, USF attends the annual State University System Tour to help discover promising high school students to add to it’s population. The focus of the event is to educate high school guidance counselors on what qualifies a student for a certain university, said Communications and Marketing Officer Jacqui Cash.
With an undergraduate population consisting of 6,155 (15.2 percent) Hispanic students, 4,599 (11.4 percent) black students and 2,532 (6.3 percent) Asian students, the demographic of USF has become more diversified – partly due to an increase in international students on campus.
INTO USF, a program that helps students adjust to studying in America and learn English, includes about 400 of the 447 international students on the Tampa campus, said Glen Besterfield, interim center director of INTO at USF.
“The United States is the premier destination in the world for higher education,” Besterfield said. “Many big name schools have more than 15 percent (of the student body consisting of) international students. USF has 4 percent. We want to be a part of that.”
The final count of INTO students will be available Tuesday.