Texas Agriculture October 21, 2016 : Page 20
More Students Choosing Ag At Texas Universities
Texas agriculture is growing, and the trend at universities in the Lone Star State shows greater interest in the field.
Despite the struggling farm economy, something is attracting students to the college of agriculture—jobs. About 15 to 20 percent of jobs in the U.S. are agriculturally-related, offering a variety of challenging and rewarding careers.
“The increase in agricultural enrollment is due to the vast amount of jobs available within the field of agriculture,” said Dr. Steve Fraze, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University.
That sentiment was supported at universities across the state.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released data that shows about 58,000 jobs for agricultural graduates will open up in the next five years. But many of the jobs do not have enough graduates to fill the openings.
Every year until 2020, there will be an estimated 22,500 fewer graduates than jobs available in agriculture and related fields, such as renewable natural resources and the environment, according to a report by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Enrollment within the College of Agricultural Sciences at Texas Tech University has consistently increased since 2010. The college has seen an increase of more than 21 percent, rising to 2,174 students from 1,785 students.
According to university officials at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, enrollment in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has steadily increased over the past several years. Enrollment in the college increased more than 16 percent from 2013. There were 1,992 students enrolled in fall 2016, which included 99 graduate students. That’s up from 1,714 students enrolled in 2013.
Texas A&M Kingsville has seen a 16 percent increase in agricultural enrollment from last year. There were 1,043 students, including graduate students, enrolled in fall 2016 courses. Their undergraduate enrollment increased to 879 students this fall from 735 students in 2015.
West Texas A&M University in Canyon saw an increase of more than 3 percent in agricultural enrollment since 2014.
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is also among the universities seeing a steady rise in agricultural enrollment. SHSU saw an increase of more than 11 percent in agricultural enrollment from 2015 and a more than 36 percent increase from 2008. The total fall enrollment for the Department of Agricultural Sciences and Engineering Technology and for Agriculture was 1,539. Enrollment in the agriculture department totaled 995 students, with 66 of those enrolled in master’s degree programs. That reflects a 13 percent increase from 2015.
But there was a slight decline in agricultural enrollment at Texas A&M University in College Station. They saw less than 1 percent decrease in enrollment from fall 2015, dropping to 6,427 undergraduate students from 6,464 students. Enrollment in the masters’ programs went down to 552 in 2016 from 618 last year. Doctoral enrollment increased slightly from last year at 770 students to 793 in 2016.
Another trend is higher female enrollment within agriculture colleges in Texas.
Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has 57 percent female enrollment. Some departments like Animal Sciences and Horticulture are over 70 percent female. But female students only make up 47.7 percent of the A&M student body.
Texas A&M Kingsville also showed slightly higher female enrollment of 52 percent and 48 percent male. West Texas A&M showed 58 percent female and 42 percent male. Tarleton State showed 63 percent female enrollment and 37 percent male. Sam Houston showed 61 percent female enrollment and 39 percent male.