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Hispanic Student Population Increases at UT Austin

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The ratio of Hispanic students enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin rose from 12 percent in 2001 to 17.5 percent this year, according to preliminary numbers from the university.  While the percentage of freshman Hispanic students is down this year, UT-Austin’s Hispanic student population of 8,975 is a new record high for the university.

That’s encouraging news for people pushing the state to keep on track with its plan to eliminate the so-called Achievement Gap – a term used to represent the ethnic and racial disparities in education.

“I’m pleased to see this kind of progress,” Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities CEO John Moder told KUT News. He credits some of the change to the state’s now modified Top 10 Percent Rule. That rule guarantees admission to students who graduate in the top ten percent of their class. The rule was changed in 2009 to allow UT-Austin to cap it at eight percent.

“The sad fact is that because of the de facto segregation of so many of our high schools and school districts, there are a lot schools where there are big concentrations of Hispanic students,” Moder said. “The best students from those schools have a shot at the flagship institutions.”

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board released a plan in 2000 to close the achievement gaps in this state by 2015. In its 2011 progress report, the coordinating board said it was well below its target on Hispanic participation in higher education learning.

“Hispanic enrollment grew by almost 33,000 students in fall 2010,” the report reads. “This put Hispanics a little closer to the target trend line for reaching the 2015 target, but still well below it. Enrollment needs to grow another 52 percent by 2015.”

While the report shows growth in the percentage of African American college students, the University of Texas reported no increase in black students from 2010 to 2011. Women make up 50.4 percent of the student population this year, down slightly from fall 2010.

This data visualization from UT shows enrollment at the university by ethnic category.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.