News Local/State

SIU-Carbondale Enrollment Drops Nearly 9 Percent

An entrance to SIU-Carbondale.

Enrollment at SIU-Carbondale is down nine percent from one year ago. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Fall enrollment at SIU-Carbondale dropped by over 14-hundred students, a decline of nearly nine percent from last fall.

Carbondale's 2017 fall enrollment stands at 14,554.

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno says the decline came as no surprise based on the school's estimates.

He says the state budget impasse certainly had an impact on the enrollment numbers. But, Montemagno says it's not the only reason.

"I believe that we have not positioned ourselves in our academic programming, our outreach and our communications effort that really highlighted the incredible strengths of an SIU-Carbondale experience."

Montemagno says SIU officials are in the process of what he calls "right-sizing" the university for the future. He says that doesn't mean a lesser educational experience.

"The intention of right-sizing is how big do we need to be to make sure that we provide a comprehensive educational experience to the students that come?"

By class, freshmen enrollment saw the biggest drop of 408 students, followed by the juniors at 336, the sophomores at 329 and the senior class with 88 fewer students.

The number of graduate students fell by 226 students.

The chancellor says the largest decline of just over 400 students in the freshman class is troubling, but hopefully a source for new inspiration.

"So, the impact of having a lower enrollment in one year is going to be felt for a minimum of four years. However, on the other side, it provides a target that helps identify and chart where we have to go to advance the institution."

Montemagno says increasing enrollment significantly won't happen overnight.

"As we advance the institution forward, initially you're not going to see very much change, but then you'll see a very rapid acceleration of the impact of the changes that we put in place."

Montemagno says the university is using more sophisticated analytics to help in the recruiting process.

He says one bright spot is maintaining the number of transfer students.

"What that indicates is students who are knowledgeable are getting the message that this is a place they want to come and complete their studies. It also indicates we need to do a better job of communicating what is great about the institution to new, incoming freshmen."

Montemagno says SIU is in the process of evaluating its program offerings to meet what will be the university's enrollment projections for the future. He says that realignment will cater to area students.

Montemagno says school officials will use the information from a survey he recently sent out to the campus community to help determine what SIU's target enrollment figure will be moving forward.

He says he doesn't know what the nine percent enrollment dip means in terms of lost tuition dollars.