News Local/State

University of Illinois Enrollment Boosted by Hispanic Students


Overall enrollment at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus went up by 12 percent over the last decade, with the Hispanic student population growing more than any other ethnic group. 

Hispanics enrolled at the U of I increased by more than 45 percent, though they currently make up the second largest minority group on campus behind Asian Americans.

The large increase is a trend seen on other college campuses across the country, according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center. Pew Research Associate Richard Fry said Latinos make up on average the largest minority group among four-year colleges and university students.

“Hispanic college going is up for reasons other than the job market because there’s a sort of greater realization of sort of the importance of college completion for their future success," he said.

Fry also credits Hispanic population growth and higher high school completion rates as reasons for the increase.

Meanwhile, at the U of I, students of Asian descent grew by a quarter over the last decade, while Caucasian and African American student enrollment slightly declined. 

Freshmen enrollment is down slightly, but the administration said the incoming students have higher test scores and class ranks than last year.   

More than 6,900 students are enrolled, compared to about 7,250 last fall. That's a roughly 4 percent decrease.  But the university says 53.8 percent of the freshmen graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. That's up from 51.8 percent.

Overall, the university logged another record enrollment year with more than 42,800 undergraduate, graduate and professional students on the Urbana campus. That's up from about 38,000 a decade ago and fewer than 36,000 two decades ago.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said new students overall are taking on more challenging coursework.

"Another thing that's been really exciting and maybe a tiny bit surprising to us, is that we've experienced continued across the board, but the greatest growth we've had in applications is in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or the STEM field," she said. "That's very exciting."

Average ACT scores of new U of I students increased from 28.2 to 28.4, and average SAT scores for West Coast area students up 22 points to 1337.