UIS Enrollment Drop "Better Than Expected"

Sep 9, 2020

Credit Sean Crawford/NPR Illinois

Despite a global health threat and concerns of students taking a gap year, enrollment on the University of Illinois Springfield campus saw only a slight decline.  That gives hope the school might be able to weather the disruption brought on by the pandemic.

After the first ten days of the fall semester, officials announced the number of students taking classes dropped three percent from a year ago.  

“So actually we were bracing for a lower enrollment, so that’s why I can tell you it was better than expected," said Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney. "So financially we are in a stronger position that we anticipated.”

Whitney said COVID-19 testing on the campus for all students, faculty and staff appears to be working and she has confidence about completing the semester as planned.  In addition, new classes will be offered starting in October and during the traditional winter break.  

Still, enrollment declines at UIS continues a trend that has seen the total number fall from a high of 5,431 in 2014 to the current level of 4,146.  This year's amount is lower than 2001, the first year UIS welcomed a freshman class.   

The drop might have been larger, except for a six percent increase in online class enrollment.  That does not include hybrid and remote classes. Whitney said more students are using that option during the pandemic.  Students in 46 states and nine foreign countries have signed up.    

There was a drop in international students from last fall.    And when it comes to students living on campus, there are 205 fewer this year for a total of 838.  

Undergraduate enrollment is 2,654, while graduate students total 1,492.  The university also said 78.2% of those taking classes are Illinois residents.

The Urbana campus announced enrollment at 52,331, ahead of last year's total of 51,196. At UIC, enrollment is 33,518, topping last year's number of 33,390 students.