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SIUC continues enrollment plunge

Wednesday, Sep 4, 2019

* Daily Egyptian

This semester, 1,037 incoming freshmen are enrolled at SIU [Carbondale]. Total enrollment for fall 2019 is 11,695.

This is a drop of 8.75% from fall 2018 when SIU total enrollment fell under 12,817. On-campus enrollment dropped to less than 10,000 in Spring 2019. […]

SIU reached its peak enrollment in 1991 with almost 25,000 students. Since then enrollment has been on the decline.

Gonna be a hard, long slog to turn that campus around.

* Meanwhile…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    Whatever ISU is doing, they are doing something right. Congratulations to them and their entire staff.

  2. - doofusguy - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:34 pm:

    Go Redbirds

  3. - Steve Brown - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:39 pm:


  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    At some point, this Administration must take on higher education as a serious concern for the state, the budget, and the idea that these institutions are the economic engines fueling central and downstate Illinois.

  5. - prairiestatedem - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    I’m saddened to see my beloved SIUC continue to struggle. It was a great place for a working kid to get an education and be presented with unique opportunities to use that education in public service and government. As you know Rich there is still a pretty good “Saluki Caucus” under the dome. Theinstitution would be well advised to use us alumni to help engage and attract prospective students. I remember a few months back you posted a story (was it award winning Saluki alum journalist Molly Parker’s work?) about how all these administrative positions were “acting”. In the wake of the Chancellor scandal and tanking enrollment they need to reform bloated administration, attract excellent academic talent and bring back the FUN place that Carbondale once was. Congrats to our ISU Redbird friends, as they are helping to keep Illinois students at home in the wake of Rauner forcing them to flee to other states. ISU is to be commended for its campus beautification, expanded programming and rebirth of an important Illinois institution.

  6. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    SIU problems – geography and costs – relative to other states, paying for in-state college is very expensive. SIU estimated 2019 cost is $29,367.00 - I sent two daughters to private out of state colleges of better academic reputation for less. ISU is doing better due to proximity to Chicago, revitalization of Bone Student Center, downtown Normal is now a vibrant commercial entertainment area, and Redbird Arena and Football stadium were upgraded. Additionally, the corporate partnerships are strong - State Farm funded $3 Million cybersecurity program

  7. - oldhp - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:46 pm:

    Well the last gov didn’t help things at all…..

  8. - State Employee 2 - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    Go Birds! Daughter is a Redbird and hopefully the boy will throw the football for them next season! So happy with that school, and such an academic difference from when my friends went there in the early 80’s.

  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    Close up Eastern IL University Western IL University Southern IL University…

  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    ===Eastern IL University Western IL University Southern IL University===

    Tell that to Charleston, Macomb, and Carbondale.

    Governors *open* universities, they don’t close them…

    Especially “She-Caw-Go” governors of the “Democrat” party.

  11. - Nieva - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    Priced their self out of business. They spent millions on a football stadium for a team that is consistantly terrible. Just like buying our gas across that money saving bridge most in Southern Illinois are sending their kids to Murray and USI to get a quality education.

  12. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    ISU is relatively affordable and also has some standout and unique program offerings that help distinguish them from the pack. Their arts, education, business and insurance programs to name a few.

  13. - Madame Defarge - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    No numbers out of WIU–cannot be good. Where will Jack Thomas go back to teach?

  14. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:20 pm:

    UIC didn’t waste time rebranding John Marshall (they keep the name but they prominently display the red UIC logo in the windows, signage, etc., plus “Chicago’s Public Law School” slogan which I think is pretty good). Will be interesting to see how it affects applications.

  15. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:30 pm:

    The students SIUC, EIU, and WIU attracted in past years have been heading to our neighbors.

    The primary reason seems to be cost. Although, IBHE analysis seems indicates that it is still less expensive for Illinois students to stay in state. So maybe it is perception of lower cost combined with more aggressive marketing.

    A second problem is the prospective students who have simply been priced out of higher ed and do not attend…

    Outmigration and non-attendance of admitted students by university is detailed here: It’s interesting to note the large proportion of students admitted who opt to attend out-of-state public universities. And the sizable percentages of admitted students who do not enroll any higher ed.

  16. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:41 pm:

    ===Will be interesting to see how it affects applications===

    Applications at NIU’s law school?

    The rich get richer because the state allows its universities to cannibalize each other. Gross mismanagement and political interference adds to the already strong head winds schools like SIU, EIU and WIU have to navigate.

    Chicago’s Public Law School is going to eat DeKalb’s Public Law School.

  17. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:43 pm:

    —-No numbers out of WIU–cannot be good. Where will Jack Thomas go back to teach?

    We are just hitting the 2 week period when enrollment numbers are solidified. Give them time.

    Pot Calling Kettle has some of the problems identified. A strong economy also discourages enrollment.

    However, there is a larger issue for the areas doing poorly meaning Eastern, Western, and Southern. Those areas are losing population and the long term demographics only getting worse. Students in the future are more likely to be from currently underrepresented populations and these areas aren’t natural places for them to attend (there’s a caveat to this I’ll mention in a sec).

    The demographics outside of Chicago, and a few other places like Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana are not a friend of these institutions. Closing them is not an answer unless you are gleeful about accelerating those trends which makes you a little weird. Right sizing is necessary and ensuring their programs match student demand. Another issue is making teaching an attractive profession as teaching majors have been plummeting and all of these institutions had significant teaching programs.

    Finally, there needs to be a refocus at these institutions on who the students will be in the future and that is going to have to start at finding students who are from different backgrounds. Eastern and Southern are going to need to look at how to attract and enroll kids of immigrants who came to work on farms and meat processing. The traditional population is going to continue to fall in these areas.

  18. - Southern_Dawg - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    I think Pot at 3:30 is correct. I work in higher ed with two degrees from SIU and perception is hurting everything in Carbondale. As an undergrad there when enrollment was 25K, location and geography were SIU’s biggest assets. I don’t know how many times I heard kids from Chicagoland say SIU was the farthest they could go away from home and still get in-state tuition. That perception is no longer the case. Not to mention, Carbondale loved to party back then. That helps enrollment way more than you think.

  19. - efudd - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:45 pm:

    While SIU was pouring millions into Saluki Way and selling their soul to get on ESPN, there were buildings with non-functioning elevators and classes where they squeezed 45 students into a room that wouldn’t hold 30.
    Reap what you sow.

  20. - Pick a Name - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    The Director of Admissions at ISU personally did a TV ad that was outstanding.

    These schools have marketing departments, they may want to use that knowledge to market their own product more effectively.

  21. - Cubs Win! - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 4:04 pm:

    Yesterday EIU announced an increase in enrollment, as well:

    -12.5% increase in first-time freshmen
    -3.7% increase in total headcount
    -10% increase in freshmen and sophomores enrolled in on-campus classes

    Go Panthers!

  22. - Unpopular - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 4:12 pm:

    17 Chancellors in 25 years.

  23. - DownStateGrl - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 4:31 pm:

    Yeah, I was also going to point out that EIU saw another increase. They have seen consistent increases since the budget impasse ended. Their enrollment had declined prior to the impasse and then the impasse sent it into the tank, but once regular funding resumed and they trimmed down their workforce to match their smaller numbers of students - they have been rewarded with consistently larger freshman classes every year. Josh Norman in Enrollment Management and Kelly Miller in Admissions have really turned things around and their President (Glassman) is the one who both chose them for those positions and directed the increased investment in marketing and recruitment. Good leaders willing to make tough decisions can change the trajectory of an entire institution.

  24. - the Edge - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 4:35 pm:

    The incoming freshman class at EIU is about the same as the incoming freshman class at my local high school. So, contextually, there are probably more incoming freshman at 3 or 4 Chicago area high schools than SIU, EIU and WIU.

  25. - btowntruth from forgottonia - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 4:54 pm:

    ISU area: Strong corporate support,increasingly vibrant culture,improving facilities.

    SIU-C area: Inept administrators and locals screaming about boycotting State Fairs and hugging Confederate flags.

  26. - Our Joe - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 4:58 pm:

    Donnie Elgin at 2:45 has it exactly right. Add to that the decrepit state of Carbondale and the crime in the city, and it will continue to be a tough sell. Will be interested to see if Edwardsville continues it’s long string of growth.

  27. - Alex Ander - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 5:35 pm:

    Some reasons. Cost. It’s actually cheaper, and in many cases, closer to go to Murray St, SEMO, or So. Indiana. ANother reason, the rep as a party school is long gone. Kids from upstate don’t have an incentive to come here. Close enough to go home for the weekend, but far enough away to prevent the parental “drop-in.” Kids don’t desire to be far away from mom and dad like they did decades ago.

    You take these factors, and add to the fact that it’s really just a rural state school, then you see that normal numbers should be in the 10-12,000 range.

  28. - The_Equalizer - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 5:35 pm:

    It’s sad days for SIU-C. Terrible leadership, both at the university and in regional politics, has hurt so badly. The regional politicians are busy doing things like wasting time trying to vote Chicago out of the state, or as another said, hugging confederate flags rather than doing constructive work to help SIU-C. Even back in my day, SIU-C was known as a party school, but today it’s has that plus so much more crime. Ten years ago when my daughter was ready to go to a university, I knew she was not going to SIU-C. She went to Eastern and did just fine. SIU-C has a long road to recovery, if that’s possible. It needs politicians who support it and will work with leaders in Springfield, rather than take constant, useless potshots at Chicago meant to inflame their base and produce nothing of value.

  29. - Progressive Guy - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 6:20 pm:

    Visited a ton of schools for my son last year, and ISU’s combination of price, programming, facilities, and retention and graduation rates are INCREDIBLE. I was sort of leaning/pushing NIU for my kid, but when visited ISU, it was over.

    He’s there now as a freshman and loving it! As a parent, I am totally blown away by how well the school is run.

    Incidentally, I work in a school and hired teachers for over a decade, and ISU’s teachers were among the very best-prepared I could come across.

    It’s a great size and location too… ISU just has a ton going for it.

    Coming from a guy who went to an out-of-state Big 10 Uni back in the day, I would pick ISU today if I had to do it again. I hope my daughter gives it some thought when it’s her turn!

  30. - SIU - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 7:55 pm:

    JB should drop $50m on SIU and make an “innovation center” or something.

  31. - Illinoised - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 8:24 pm:

    Advocating the closure of EIU, SIU, and WIU is a narrow-minded stance.

  32. - NorthsideNoMore - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 9:47 pm:

    SIU-C has had its share of politcal bs and poor management / board decisions in the public realm. Add in some location issues and you get what you got. To bad its a nice campus that has some cool things around that other state schools simply can’t offer…Oh and Go EIU Panthers

  33. - Biker - Wednesday, Sep 4, 19 @ 10:31 pm:

    One has a Renewable Energy major. The other has a coal research center. Which one is looking forward?

  34. - Billy Shears - Thursday, Sep 5, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    That drop in enrollment since 1991 is eye-popping.

    Maybe it is bad management. Maybe poor marketing. Maybe tuition is too high. But, maybe there are just better options and not enough demand. I do think the State needs to really look at capacity. Maybe there is too much capacity (supply).

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