As the semester is in full swing, we feel the pressure… of people everywhere in campus. Long lines, congested streets, and massive stampede of students every hour during the daytime are common and we all try to adapt. On top of that, constructions and traffic disruptions are ongoing in many spots in campus adding more misery to the pedestrians. Quiet walk for refreshment and meditation is a scene from a bygone era in our campus, at least during the semester. Is it something new? Is the campus more crowded with more students? What is going on? One may wonder.
Some people may blame the increase of student population, while others blame ubiquitous constructions in campus. Both sound reasonable, so I decided to check the numbers.
Following is the undergraduate and graduate students populations data during the last eleven academic years, according to the Office of Institutional Reports, Research, and Information Systems of the University of Texas at Austin (Statistical Handbook, Common Data Set):
Academic Year / Undergraduate / Graduate / Total
2005-06 36,878 12,818 49,696
2006-07 37,037 12,660 49,697
2007-08 37,459 12,711 50,170
2008-09 37,389 12,595 49,984
2009-10 38,168 12,827 50,995
2010-11 38,420 12,775 51,195
2011-12 38,437 12,675 51,112
2012-13 39,955 12,231 52,186
2013-14 39,979 12,080 52,059
2014-15 39,523 11,790 51,313
2015-16 39,619 11,331 50,950
During this period, obvious trends are a steady increase of undergraduate population and an opposite trend of graduate population, which interestingly have maintained the similar total number (although the magnitude of undergraduate population increase is larger than the decrease of graduate population). So, more or less 51K students roam over the campus these days, which is a LOT by the way.
Back to the earlier question whether the perception of more crowd is due to the increase in the number of students or due to more restriction of passages, I suppose the squeeze (of people through more restricted paths) is a more likely reason than the surge (of student population) during the last few year. I do not think I am sensitive enough to tell the variations of one thousand or so out of 51K at any time. But there is a caveat for this reasoning. Graduate students are less likely spill over to the campus streets altogether at any time of the day, while undergraduates tend to flood and ebb, so the effect from decrease of graduate student population may not be so apparent while that of increase of undergraduate population may be more conspicuous.