DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) -- Fall enrollment at Northern Illinois University has hit its lowest level in decades, according to data released Wednesday by the school.
A 2019 headcount for this fall was 16,609 students, marking a 3% decline from last year.
Leaders with the NIU United Faculty Alliance say the decline could be a result of working conditions.
"Faculty erosion exacerbates student enrollment," says United Faculty Alliance past president Virgina Naples. "If the courses cannot be taught, these students cannot come here and complete their programs in a timely manner."
While NIU saw an overall decline in students, the freshman enrollment increased by 2%. The report also showed 1,611 new transfer students and 926 new graduate and professional students, both which increased since last year.
NIU issued a statement after Thursday's Board of Trustees meeting:
"...There is no evidence to support the claim that a decline in enrollment at NIU is due to lack of faculty. In fact, our incoming population of new students increased this year and we are committed to student success and a timely graduation."
As part of a five-year strategic enrollment management plan, NIU hopes to increase enrollment up to 17,0000-18,000 by 2023.