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Virginia Union University's retention rate is highest in school history

Virginia Union University's retention rate is highest in school history

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Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., celebrates increased enrollment for the third consecutive year. Video by Alexa Welch Edlund/Times-Dispatch

Seventy percent of Virginia Union University freshmen returned to campus for the fall 2021 semester, the highest retention rate in the university’s history, VUU announced Thursday.

There are roughly 1,700 students enrolled at VUU, a historically Black and private university in Richmond’s North Side, its highest figure in four years, the university said. Other universities have announced drops in attendance, citing a lingering effect of the pandemic on low-income families.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s enrollment dropped 2% to 29,000, and the number of students at Reynolds Community College has fallen 20% since the start of the pandemic, the Henrico Citizen reported.

Virginia Union received $26 million in emergency relief aid, and it used portions of it to clear student debt for some students and to buy $1,400 worth of Apple products for each incoming freshman.

According to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, VUU’s retention has fluctuated between 42% and 65%. Retention is measured by the number of freshmen who return to a university for their sophomore year.

Virginia Union’s enrollment rose to 1,900 in 2015. The university’s enrollment numbers do not match those of SCHEV, because VUU continues to enroll students after it reports figures to the state council, a university spokesperson said.

Not all VUU classes are taught on a semester schedule. The university offers courses throughout seven academic terms this fall, including two that begin in October.

The university grew in 2020, even as enrollment statewide dropped 1% and freshman enrollment cratered 10%.

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich



Eric Kolenich writes about higher education, health systems and more for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 and spent 11 years in the Sports section. (804) 649-6109

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