Edinburg – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has experienced a substantial decline in graduate enrollment according to a letter sent from UTRGV President Guy Bailey to faculty and staff on Wednesday.
In the letter, Bailey did not reveal by what margins or percentages the graduate enrollment has declined, but stressed that the reduction in enrollment could create significant challenges to the university.
The sudden reduction in graduate enrollment may be why Bailey and the University are looking south of the border for growth.
Last month, Bailey signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Instituto Tecnológico de Matamoros in order to begin outreach into the border town of Matamoros and throughout Mexico.
Relishing in the prospects of using state taxpayers funds for Mexican outreach, Bailey told the [Rio Grande Guardian]
“We are going to expand our outreach into Mexico. We are going to begin some systematic recruiting across the border. We may even set up a recruiting office or two across the border,”
“Tamaulipas is a natural recruiting area for us, just Edinburg and McAllen are natural recruiting areas.”
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Rio Grande Valley region sits around 13% of person 25 age or higher without a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
One aspect as to the sharp decline in graduate enrollment could stem from increasing student loan debt incurred by most students.
According to The Economist, the average Class of 2016 graduate has atleast $37, 172 in student loan debt.
With turn-around times to begin paying back this debt shortening, many students may be foregoing continuing education, in order to enter the workforce in order to pay back the loans.
Below is UTRGV’s Average cost of Tuition for Graduate Courses.
Therefore it’s possible that a student continuing their education could incur an additional $15,000 to their student loan debt if most education cost are not supported by grants or scholarships. The ever increasing cost of education would only serve to complicate matters further.
The decline of graduate enrollment comes at a challenging time for the university and for Bailey, who under his tenure has seen the institution under probation for accreditation, a rejection of proposition 1 which would have provided financial assistance to the School of Medicine, and a $24 million reduction in state appropriations funds.