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Record enrollment, graduation rates fueling UK’s mission

70% six-year graduation rate is among best in the U.S.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto announced that UK has reached a historic milestone of a 70% six-year graduation rate — a figure placing the institution among the best in the country.  

The graduation rate details were part of an enrollment report that Capilouto gave members of the UK Board of Trustees during their September meeting. The enrollment report included several other historic firsts, including a record first-year class of almost 6,500 students and, overall, more than 34,000 students enrolled on the campus for the first time ever, according to preliminary figures.  

“Over the last decade, because of the work of thousands of faculty and staff and the commitment and capacity of our students, we have rapidly accelerated the success rate of students – even as we continued to grow enrollment. Kentucky is rightly demanding of us a larger and even more skilled workforce to meet the needs of a complex and competitive economy,” Capilouto told board members. “To do that, we must educate and graduate even more students in fields responsive to local and global workforce needs – students who have the skills to solve problems, work in teams, communicate effectively and think deeply and broadly about challenges.”  

Other highlights of Capilouto’s preliminary enrollment report included:  

  • Six-year graduation rates have increased by more than 12 percentage points since the class of 2010; four-year graduation rates have increased by 27 percentage points in that same time and five-year rates have increased by 17 percentage points.  
  • The 70% graduation rate, according to the most recent data, places UK among the top 100 public institutions in the country that grant primarily bachelor’s degrees or higher.  
  • Second fall retention – the success rate for students returning for their second year of college – reached 87%, according to preliminary numbers.  
  • Nearly 6,500 first-year students are enrolled at UK this fall, about 400 more than last year. UK’s first-year enrollment exceeds 6,000 for the second year in a row. In fall 2010, the first-year enrollment was a little more than 4,300.  
  • Overall, UK has grown from a little more than 28,000 students in fall 2010 to more than 34,000 in fall 2023; UK also has more than 24,000 undergraduates for the first time. 
  • Nearly 17% percent of students enrolled are from underrepresented populations, an increase in both number and percentage over last year.  This continues an upward trend in underrepresented student enrollment that has produced more than 1,400 credentials earned by students of color in 2022-23, a 251 percent increase since 2010-11. In addition, nearly 19 percent of UK’s first-year students are from underrepresented populations.  
  • Additionally, about 25% of first-year students are “first gen” students – meaning they will be the first in their families to graduate from college, a number that continues to increase as well.

“At UK, we work every day to model a community where everyone belongs and everyone feels accepted for who they are and what they, uniquely, contribute to this place,” Capilouto said.  “Kentucky needs more from us and with us to build a stronger state with a brighter future … We must, and I believe we will, find ways to do and be even more for Kentucky.” 

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