University of Iowa Hispanic student enrollment on rise

Hispanic and Latinx students make up the “largest and faster growing racial/ethnic minority group among the Regent universities.”


Isabella Cervantes

Kayla Buehring, a University of Iowa student, poses for a portrait on the Pentecrest on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Buehring explained she is proud to represent the Hispanic community at the University. “To show that there are people from our community who are doing things that some have been told they can’t do makes feels good,” she said.

Virginia Russell, News Reporter

Hispanic student enrollment numbers are growing across all Iowa public universities — including the University of Iowa.

A recent state Board of Regents report stated Hispanic and Latinx students make up the “largest and faster growing racial/ethnic minority group among the Regent universities.” The continued increase has sparked conversations between UI officials about how the university can foster more inclusivity and diversity on campus.

The number of Hispanic students enrolled at the UI grew from 6.6 percent in 2020 to 7.1 percent in 2022, according to the report.

The increase in Hispanic student enrollment is not just a trend at the UI. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, enrollment of Hispanic students at four-year institutions has increased by 287 percent from 2000 to 2020. This growth is due partly to the overall growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S.

The uptick in Hispanic students points to a more inclusive college environment, Tabitha Wiggins, UI Director of the Center for Inclusive and Academic Excellence of the division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, said.

“I think they see themselves in the university environment,” Wiggins said.

The Center for Inclusive and Academic Excellence is involved with various initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion at the University of Iowa, including the Storm Lake Scholars Program, a scholarship for first-year, first-generation students from Storm Lake High School in Storm Lake, Iowa.

Wiggins said the program is predominantly made up of Latinx students.


Additionally, the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion established the Latinx Youth Summit and TRIO Upward Bound Program, which both support high school students in their paths to postsecondary education. There are also various scholarship programs to support and retain Hispanic students.

The Center for Inclusive and Academic Excellence also collaborates with the UI’s Latino Native American Cultural Center and the Latina/o/x Studies Department.

“We work really closely with them to make sure that students feel like they can see themselves represented here at the university, so I think it does create a welcoming and inclusive environment for Latinx students on campus,” Wiggins said.

UI sophomore Kayla Buehring who identifies as Hispanic, said the report is a point of satisfaction and a sign of more diversity coming to UI.

“It’s just showing that there are more and more Hispanic people who are pursuing higher education, so I think just that in itself, it really speaks to how the whole university is just becoming more and more diverse,” Buehring said.

Wiggins said it is important to involve prospective students of diverse backgrounds and historically underrepresented groups early on in their university path. Getting diverse high school students on campus allows them to form connections with people of similar backgrounds.

“I think that’s really important, that pipeline, and then once they see themselves here and they come to Iowa, they are more likely to come to campus and they know about our resources already,” Wiggins said.

Charlie Taylor, UI Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion director of communications, also emphasized the importance of having diverse educators at the UI.

“So to see themselves, it’s got to be when you walk into the classroom, you walk into that discussion, you’re working in that project group … our culture is welcoming and inclusive of everybody,” Taylor said.