Record Enrollment Drives Diversity, Access

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As one of the fastest-growing public university campuses in Washington, UW Tacoma is fulfilling its mission of offering a great UW education and great access.

(Above: First-year students celebrate the start of a new academic year at UW Tacoma's 2015 Convocation.)

Just as it has almost every year since it was founded, UW Tacoma set a record for enrollment this fall.

For autumn 2015, the university welcomed 4,629 students to campus.

Undergraduate enrollment is up 5.6 percent from last year. We have 505 first-year students (aka “freshmen”), the largest first-year cohort since we started admitting them in 2006.

This year, UW Tacoma has been ranked as one of the 50 most ethnically diverse university campuses in the nation, according to Best College Reviews. Diversity of all sorts is an important part of our mission—one of the foundational elements of being an urban-serving university. Why? According to Sharon Parker, assistant chancellor for equity and diversity at UW Tacoma, “Research shows that diversity produces higher levels of student persistence, greater satisfaction with the college experience and higher levels of academic excellence.”

56% of UW Tacoma undergraduates identify themselves as other than Caucasian. 26% of them are part of an underrepresented minority. 12% of all students (undergraduate and graduate) are 35 or older. We serve the most ethnically and racially diverse student population of any 4-year institution in Washington.

The portion of our undergraduate enrollment that we call “first-generation” keeps growing. This year 64% of our fresh-out-of-high-school first-year students come from households where neither parent has a college degree.

Our relationship with community colleges is very important, as many students choose to start their college education at one of our two-year partners, and complete the last two years of their four-year degree on our campus. Students in their junior and senior year continue to make up a substantial portion of our undergraduate enrollment: 68% in 2015.

Priceonomics, a firm that specializes in data analysis, recently listed UW Tacoma as one of the best public colleges in the nation for low income students, because we combine a great UW education with great access. The company used data from the Department of Education’s new College Scorecard to come up with its listing.

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / November 17, 2015
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or