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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 27, 201612:00 PM EST

University of Central Florida recruits most state college students

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In the fall of 2014, more than a quarter of the students who had transferred to state universities after earning associate in arts degrees in the Florida State College System were enrolled at the University of Central Florida.

The Orlando university’s ability to enroll 27.2 percent of the state college graduates contrasts sharply with Florida A&M University’s enrollment of less than 1 percent of those students, a new report given to the state Board of Education showed.

“I was struck by the spread,” said Tom Grady, a member of the education panel that oversees Florida’s 28 state colleges as well as the K-12 system.

The ability to attract state college graduates with associate degrees is one reason the University of Central Florida is the largest state university, with more than 63,000 students, and one of the largest in the nation, while Florida A&M has struggled with enrollment.

FAMU, one of the most prominent historically black universities in the nation, has seen its enrollment decline about 25 percent between the fall of 2010, when it reached a peak headcount of 13,277 students, to 9,920 students last fall.

Madeline Pumariega, chancellor of the Florida State College System, said she is working with FAMU on ways to help the school attract more state-college transfer students.

The so-called “2 plus 2” system guarantees students who graduate with associate degrees from state colleges a place in the university system, although not necessarily at the universities they want to attend.

The new articulation report showed that in the 2013-14 academic year, nearly 66 percent of the high school graduates who decided to continue their higher education in Florida opted to attend state colleges. Slightly less than 30 percent went directly to state universities.

Many of those students go on to earn associate degrees, with the system producing more than 55,000 associate-degree graduates annually in recent years.

In 2013-14, about 30,000 of those graduates were admitted to state universities, with 25,000 deciding to attend.

Pumariega said some students do not move on to state universities because they are “place bound,” not having the means to enroll because of other responsibilities like jobs or caring for children or elders.

Other students are satisfied with associate degrees.

Behind UCF, the University of South Florida had 16.5 percent of the transfers in 2014, followed by Florida International University with 13.9 percent, Florida State University with 11.3 percent, Florida Atlantic University with 10.2 percent and the University of Florida with 9.9 percent.

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