News Local/State

U Of I System Enrollment Expected To Top Record 81,000; EIU Enrollment Down

In this April 28, 2014 photo, Students walk past the Alma Mater statue, a landmark on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana, Ill.

In this April 28, 2014 photo, Students walk past the Alma Mater statue, a landmark on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana, Ill. David Mercer/Associated Press

The University of Illinois says fall enrollment is up 1.2 percent from a year ago, enrolling 77,073 students systemwide. That figure is expected to top 81,000 when online students are worked into that figure later this year. Meanwhile, Eastern Illinois University reported a drop in enrollment of 2.6 percent.

University of Illinois Urbana campus enrollment went up 1.8 percent, to 44,880 students, including the largest freshman class in the campus' nearly 150-year history.

U of I President Tim Killeen addressed the figures in a presentation at Thursday's Board of Trustees meeting at the Illini Union.

“Our continuing enrollment gains are especially remarkable, we feel, considering the financial climate in which we’re operating," said Killeen. "Despite a year of headlines about a state budget impasse that has significantly reduced state support, students are flocking to our universities in record numbers.”

Enrollment campus-wide of African-American undergraduates went up 5.1 percent to 3,780, while Latino enrollment increased 11.2 percent, to 9,124.

The only decrease in freshman enrollment in the University of Illinois system was on the Chicago campus, where it went down 5.1 percent, from 3,485 to 3,307. Total enrollment at Chicago went up 0.3 percent, from 28,632 to 28,710.

Total enrollment on the U of I Springfield campus went up 1-percent, from 3,447 to 3,483. Freshman enrollment at UIS increased 11.9 percent, from 268 to 300.

The U of I announcement Thursday followed news of an enrollment drop at Eastern Illinois University. Overall enrollment was 7,415, down 2.6 percent from last fall. Freshman enrollment was down sharply by 25 percent to 1,251.

However, EIU saw significant increases in graduate student enrollment (at 1,458, a 10.6 percent increase from last fall) and in the number of international students (up 48.8 percent, to 433).

Eastern President David Glassman blamed the declines in undergraduate enrollment on the state budget impasse, and said it had nothing to do with the quality of education at the university in Charleston. 

In his "State of the University" address delivered Wednesday, Glassman said it was time for EIU to do more to promote itself, and to focus on targeting resources on the school's high-demand programs and services. He said the time had passed when the university could depend on state government as a reliable funding source. 

"We now know for sure that a fragile dependency on the state for EIU’s viability is a shaky proposition," said Glassman. 

Several state universities have already announced enrollment declines related to Illinois' state-budget crisis.

Western Illinois University says enrollment this fall has fallen by 7 percent, or 721 students, to 10,373. But the freshman enrollment of 1,527 was only eight less than a year ago.

The announcement came Wednesday as some state universities brace for the possibility of enrollment declines due to Illinois' budget crisis and a lack of state university funding.  

Western was one of those. WIU said Wednesday that enrollment dropped by 721 students to 10,373. But the school's freshman class is 1,527. That's only eight less than a year ago.  

On Tuesday, Southern Illinois University said its enrollment is down 7.5 percent to 15,987.  

But Illinois State University reported an enrollment increase of 1.1 percent to 21,039 students, compared to a year ago.

The state went most of last school year without providing money for universities before agreeing to partial funding. Some schools reported declining applications as a result. 

NOTE: This article was updated and expanded at 12:37 PM, 9/8/16.