Only two of the state’s 38 public four-year universities can graduate half of their students within four years — and even then, just barely. At the University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reports, 53 percent of incoming freshmen graduate in four years. Texas A&M University graduates 51 percent.
On the other end of the spectrum, rates are staggeringly low: Texas Southern University and the University of Houston-Downtown only graduate 3 percent of their students in four years, according to the same figures. The University of Texas at El Paso graduates 10 of every 100 students in that time frame.
Higher education and workforce development leaders throughout the state acknowledge and decry these dismal statistics, and many public universities are launching initiatives designed to improve college completion.
“We’re not getting the return on investment that we’re making” in higher education, said Bill Hammond, the president of the Texas Association of Business, which advocates for education reform in Texas. Over the next biennium, that investment will total about $21.8 billion.