© 2024 WUOT

209 Communications Building
1345 Circle Park Drive
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-0322
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

UT to hire consultant to examine parking on campus; applications rise on new admissions standards

Enrollment at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville has risen 26% from five years ago, and applications are up more than 100% in that same time frame. The university said it has already received about 49,000 applications for fall 2024.

Since 2022, in-state applications have risen 12.6%, out-of-state applications have risen 50.7% and international applications have risen 45.5%.

The university has a new policy that guarantees admission to in-state students who graduate in the top 10% of their class, or have a 4.0 grade point average. That policy change is likely driving applications, Chancellor Donde Plowman said at a campus advisory board meeting on Nov. 3.

The chancellor also said first-year retention has risen to 91.1%. The four-year graduation rate remains below 60%. The first-year class of about 6,000 is slightly smaller than in the past due to capacity constraints.

Plowman acknowledged that enrollment growth would not likely continue at this pace.

“The rate at which Tennessee’s young people go to college is continuing to decline,” Plowman said. “So that is troubling and concerning to us.”

Georgia and Illinois are the top two states for out-of-state applicants, with more than 7,000 applications combined.

Tom Smith, an advisory board member, expressed concerns about the number of out-of-state applicants and achieving equal representation across the state.

“We need to be careful that we focus so much on this,” he said, referring to the new admissions standards. “We need to be careful to serve all of Tennessee, and the whole student.”

Kari Alldredge, vice president for enrollment management, said that “Many students will continue to be offered admission holistically…There is more to the student than GPA and test score.”

Parking to be studied: “We need to change the culture”

University leaders also acknowledged capacity constraints, and put forward plans to address issues in both housing and parking.

Plowman said the university has hired a consultant to look at “best practices around the country” for campus parking. The university will be assigning students to parking on the campus perimeters next year to boost use of the campus shuttle, according to Interim Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Allen Bolton. He said more parking spots would be part of the solution, together with enhanced bus services.

“We do need to change the culture or the mindset around parking on campus,” Bolton said. A new fleet of hybrid electric buses will be introduced to help reduce traffic on campus.

The university is also working with private developers in its first-ever public private partnership for student housing. About 2,000 beds will be available in 2025 and about 1,000 more in 2026.

(This story was co-produced with students from the University of Tennessee's Department of Journalism and Media.)

Melanie is WUOT’s interim news director and Professor of Practice in journalism at the University of Tennessee, where she has taught reporting, editing and media entrepreneurship since 2012. Before teaching, Melanie worked for Bloomberg News for 11 years in a variety of cities and roles, from managing the multimedia desk to producing television. In between her journalism jobs, Melanie worked as director of information services at Opera America, putting her M.A. in musicology, from Montreal’s McGill University, to good use.