Thursday, September 14, 2017

UIS enrollment drops 8.7 percent compared to last year

Total enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield decreased 8.7 percent compared to last fall, while the three-campus U of I system as a whole is up nearly 3 percent, university officials announced Wednesday.

 UIS enrollment went from 5,428 to 4,956 this year, according to student counts taken on Monday, the 10th day of classes.

Chancellor Susan Koch said the enrollment figures released Wednesday were not a surprise and described them as a mixed report.

The university, she said, expected to see a drop in the number of international students, a problem occurring at universities across the country.

UIS has 420 fewer international students at the graduate level this year compared to last, contributing to the overall drop in graduate students from 2,469 in 2016 to 2,024 in 2017.

Koch noted UIS had a record number of graduates last year and concerns from international students regarding whether their visa status could change contributed to the decline.

The majority of international students at UIS hail from India and are drawn to UIS because it offers strong computer science and information management programs, Koch said. “It was beyond our control, and we’re working hard to build it back up,” she said.

While UIS saw a decrease overall, the number of undergraduate students held steady, with 2,932 students enrolled this year, down just 27 from last year.

In addition, the number of students taking classes completely online through UIS increased, with 1,681 students (34 percent of the campus’ total) enrolled in online degree or certificate programs, an increase of 16 students from last year.

UIS also saw an increase in Illinois residents, up from 67 percent last year to 72 percent this year. 

UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said the number of incoming freshmen from 14 counties in central Illinois has increased from 55 to 84 students in the last 5 years.

Koch said she is optimistic UIS can turn around enrollment and reach the university’s strategic goal of adding 1,000 students by 2025.

Finally getting a state budget in place provides more certainty for Illinois families, Koch said, also noting the university has added several new academic programs, including biochemistry, data analytics, exercise science, information systems security, theater and nursing.

Furthermore, a new student union expected to open in January should improve student life on campus, Koch said. “We’re continuing to make progress and promote the campus and increase our visibility,” she said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on September 13, 2017.

Read the entire article online.