U of I Springfield Enrollment Down 7.7%; Increase In Freshmen Class

Sean Crawford/NPR Illinois

The University of Illinois Springfield is the latest state school to see an enrollment decline, part a recent trend for the campus.  

Overall enrollment dropped 7.7-percent from a year ago.  A total of 4,575 students are taking classes this fall, a decline of 381 from last year.  And 2017 saw a roughly 9-percent drop.   

“We’re always concerned when we see an overall enrollment decline because our number one goal is to grow the UIS campus in visibility and reputation and enrollment.  But we’ve always known that’s not something you can do in one year or two years," said Chancellor Susan Koch.  "You’re subject to a number of conditions you can’t completely control.”

Koch said that fewer international students, amid concerns about immigration laws.  9.5-percent of UIS students are from other countries.  Koch adds the state budget impasse dealt a blow to Illinois’ reputation and many universities are still impacted. 

Back in 2014, UIS was celebrating record enrollment that topped 5,400 for the first time.  Nearly 900 fewer students are taking classes now.  

On a brighter note, the freshman class is about 14 percent larger this year.   9 out of 10 freshmen are from Illinois, as UIS has pushed to increase in-state representation among the student body.  

Overall in Illinois, a growing number of high school graduates are continuing their education in other states.  Factors blamed include more out of state schools providing tuition breaks to students from here and Illinois' cuts to higher education creating uncertainty on campuses.  

Koch said the freshmen class bodes well for the future of UIS.   

“Because that shows the many things we’re doing -- the increased recruitment efforts, the new academic programs, the new facilities – those are making a difference for us.”

The campus opened a student union building last winter.  

UIS continues to do well with online students.  Nearly 36-percent are enrolled in online degree or certificate programs.  

Total undergraduate UIS enrollment is 2,814.  There are 1,761 graduate students. 

12.8-percent of the student body is African-American, 7.3-percent Hispanic and 3.9-percent Asian.  

Meanwhile, enrollment at both the U of I Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses is up about 3 percent.  

Story source: Illinois Public Radio