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  • The San Juan Daily Star

UPR president proposes waiving college board as student enrollment declines

University of Puerto Rico President Luis Ferrao Delgado

By The Star Staff

Because of an 11.5% decline from last year in students enrollment, University of Puerto Rico (UPR) President Luis Ferrao Delgado has proposed waiving the college board as a requirement for admission.

The possibility of no longer requiring the college board is one of seven changes to the admission process Ferrao proposed as part of his University Academic and Administrative Plan 2025, which he presented to the board of trustees last week. The report describes 18 areas for the transformation of the university.

“The UPR system has endured six consecutive years of a decline in enrollment (in some campuses even seven or more),” Ferrao said in the report. “If this trend continues, we could lose close to 30% of our current enrollment over the next decade.”

There are 43,333 students enrolled in the UPR system, or 5,667 fewer students, in the academic year that began this month. In August 2021, UPR had 49,000 students.

Ferrao said it is precisely the decline in university enrollment, along with declining figures at the school level and other demographic declines, such as lower fertility rates, that affect Puerto Rico, that has led him to propose the need to reformulate admissions to the UPR system.

The enrollment figures of the system and its ,campuses, when examined in comparative terms with previous years, indicate the following: Humacao has 18% fewer students and the others, although not so precipitous, also experienced significant percentage drops: Carolina (-15%), Bayamón (-12%) and Medical Sciences (-12%).

From 2010 to 2022, the UPR system lost more than 20,805 students or 32% of its student population, and in several campuses the percentage loss exceeds the system average. For instance the Utuado campus has 82% fewer students, Carolina 50%, Humacao 43% and Bayamón 41% fewer students.

Given the crisis in enrollment, Ferrao said he has entrusted the vice president of student affairs with a reevaluation and rethinking of the current UPR admissions policy that will revolve around seven crucial aspects.

The first would be to rethink the admission formula in the UPR system to determine if UPR should continue requiring the College Board as criteria for admission or only consider the student’s academic grade point average.

The second task would be to determine if the UPR system can develop an alternative method of placement free of charge for the student and offered in all campuses and units so that the potential student can visit UPR early in the process of admission to the institution.

“In principle, I favor the use of the student’s grade point average for admission, and the use of the placement test to determine the level of proficiency in English, Mathematics and Spanish,” Ferrao said in the report.

The third proposal would be to establish an early admission process calendar for the UPR system, so that acceptance letters can be sent out as early as October of the year prior to admission, allowing the student to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, student aid forms and make decisions. Currently, acceptance letters are sent in March and April.

The fourth proposal would be to establish in the UPR system a calendar that allows for the beginning of courses both in August and in January in all programs, except those that for accreditation reasons are not allowed.

The fifth proposal would be to establish an open admission policy, like the one used at the City University of New York, or CUNY, in which applicants will be admitted to the UPR system once they complete forms and have the required average. Through the placement exam mechanism, officials can then determine which campus and under what level the student can be enrolled (bachelor’s degree or associate degree).

The sixth proposal would be to establish in the UPR system an admission policy for members of the adult population 25 years or older who have not completed a high school degree or, on the contrary, are interested in pursuing graduate-level degrees.

“For this, it is important to review the credit expiration policy, readmission or transfer policy so that the student is not penalized,” Ferrao said.

He also said that after an agreement of understanding is signed with the island Department of Education, officials will start up and coordinate a plan to visit and recruit students at high schools.

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