AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is in line to meet the 2015 higher education enrollment goal of 1.65 million students, but the state must work harder to encourage minorities to pursue advanced degrees, according to the state’s higher education commissioner.
More than 1.5 million students attended Texas public and private colleges and universities in 2010, Raymund Paredes told reporters last week during a conference call.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Thursday received an update on the 2015 Closing the Gaps initiative, a push adopted in 2000 to also increase the number of nationally recognized programs and add federal funding for scientific research.
Overall targets of higher enrollment and the awarding of degrees are being met, Paredes said.
“We are doing extremely well in terms of the two most important goals. Having said that, we still have some very substantial challenges” involving goals for Hispanics and African-Americans, Paredes said.
Total higher education enrollment in fall 2010 was 1,505,499, an increase of 84,456 students since a year earlier, according to figures provided by Dominic Chavez, a board spokesman.
About 194,000 African-Americans were enrolled in Texas higher education last fall, Chavez told The Associated Press. The number of Black students added since 2000 was 85,300. The goal for 2010 was to have added 49,800 African-American students.
Overall, American-African females are driving most of the increase, Chavez said. For African-Americans in Texas, 8.1 percent of women and 5 percent of men were enrolled.
Total Hispanic student enrollment in 2010 was approximately 442,000. Texas public and private colleges and universities, since 2000, have added nearly 208,000 Hispanic students.
“For us to meet our goals by 2015 we should have added 236,600 Hispanics by this time,” Chavez said.
Among Hispanics in Texas, 5.4 percent of women and 3.6 percent of men were enrolled.
“Part of it is the Hispanic population has grown tremendously,” Chavez said. “So we’ve got a lot more young, Hispanic students, and part of this is encouraging those students to prepare and to go into the post-secondary education. So we are falling short a little bit.”
The board a year ago adopted a campaign, Generation Texas, to encourage enrollment and better advise schools on keeping students on track toward degrees.
“The sole purpose, the target audience, is for first-generation students, particularly to focus on Hispanic and African-American communities, to encourage them to become college career ready, starting in middle school, with special emphasis in high school,” Chavez said.
Students need to understand what it takes to prepare for college and be successful in school, he said.
“We don’t just want them to enroll, we need them to graduate,” Chavez said.