Freshmen enrollment at Illinois public universities rose 5%
SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Illinois Board of Higher Education is reporting that freshman enrollment at Illinois public universities is up by 5% this fall. That is drastically different from the national trend with a 2.4% decrease in freshmen enrolling at all public universities.
Nine of the state’s 12 public universities saw an increase in freshmen enrollment for the 2022-23 school year. Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday that Illinois universities are seeing extraordinary growth largely driven by Black and Latino students.
First-time freshmen Latino enrollment in Illinois increased by 12.9% while the national average fell by 2.4%. Black enrollment also rose by 10.5% for Illinois public universities while national enrollment dropped by 4.3%.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education said closing enrollment and completion equity gaps for historically disadvantaged students is the core focus of the state’s strategic plan for higher education. This is also the second college application cycle where all 12 public universities in the state used the Common Application for admission.
“We’ve also targeted the federal government’s emergency education relief funds to support the enrollment, re-enrollment and retention of students most impacted by the pandemic,” said IBHE spokesperson Jose Garcia. “And those include Black, Latino, and students of low-income households.”
Garcia explained the Board also changed the criteria for college grants to ensure equity is a top priority. IBHE also focused its annual trustee training on equity and the responsibility of university leaders to have diversity, equity, and inclusion at their institutions.
Northeastern Illinois University saw the highest freshmen enrollment change with a 58.6% increase from the 2021-22 school year. Governors State University saw an increase of 52.4% while Illinois State University saw freshmen enrollment rise by 18.5%. Western Illinois University reported a 17.3% increase and Eastern Illinois University saw an 11.4% jump in enrollment. Northern Illinois University documented a 10.7% rise in freshmen enrollment while Southern Illinois University reported a 7.1% increase. Chicago State University and the University of Illinois Chicago noted increases of 6.1% and 3.9%.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the University of Illinois Springfield, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were the only public universities in Illinois that saw a drop in freshmen enrollment this fall. UIUC reported a 4% decrease in enrollment while SIUE documented 5.6% fewer freshmen and UIS saw a 6.5% drop.
“We continue to work with the state’s public universities to ensure we are supporting and equitably serving students, especially those from underserved backgrounds, so they obtain their degrees, flourish in our state’s workforce, and help our communities to thrive,” said IBHE Executive Director Ginger Ostro.
Garcia said the state’s higher education system offers diverse experiences and programs of study for students all across the state. He feels this report shows that Illinois public colleges and universities are attractive to young people and that students want to continue their education.
“We are encouraged by this increase in freshmen enrollment,” Garcia said. “And we’ll continue to work with our university partners and other stakeholders across the state to ensure this trend continues and that it’s not an anomaly.”
Graduate and professional enrollment at Illinois public schools also increased by 1.3% this fall while the graduate enrollment nationally decreased by 0.3%. Meanwhile, dual credit enrollment rose by 4.9% for the 2022-23 school year. IBHE said this was driven by modest year-over-year growth at EIU and large proportional annual growth at NEIU.
“EIU still accounts for nearly nine out of every ten of the dual credit enrollments among Illinois public universities,” IBHE wrote. “In fall of 2022-23, eight Illinois public universities reported dual credit/dual enrollment students, which was up from six universities the year before.”
Overall enrollment of international students at Illinois public universities rose by 19% after experiencing large decreases in the 2020-21 school year.
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