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Enrollment remains steady at state universities, crashes at Chicago State, jumps at EIU

Tuesday, Dec 8, 2020

* Press release

The Illinois Board of Higher Education today released public university enrollment data indicating enrollment numbers holding steady despite nationwide declines in new and returning students due to COVID-19. Overall enrollment in the state was up by 0.2 percent or 417 students compared to fall of 2019 with 182,586 students currently enrolled in public universities. A nationwide snapshot of fall enrollment shows higher education down by 1.8 percent compared to 2019, per the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

“I am extremely proud of the resiliency of our students, our institutions, their leadership and faculty who all worked hard to make this Fall reopening as successful as possible. There was talk over the summer that college enrollments could be down 25 percent across the nation, and Illinois has proven that its students continue to stay the course,” IBHE Chair John Atkinson said. “Enrollment in our public universities remained largely steady which is, a reflection of both Governor Pritzker’s continued commitment to higher education funding and the planning and preparation of the IBHE Reopening Committee working with our public, private and community college leaders to reopen safely to students”

Undergraduate enrollment by headcount was down slightly, with a decrease of 1,345 students (1 percent) for a total of 129,512 students. Graduate enrollment was up 1,762, or 3.4 percent over last fall. Nationally, undergraduate enrollment at public universities was down nearly 2 percent, while graduate enrollment was up 3.6 percent.

* Illinois Public University Enrollments from Fall of 2020-2021 to Fall of 2019-2020

* Back to the release

The enrollment of Black students was also steady, with a total 20,829 student overall, up 0.6 percent from last year. Notable increases occurred in the number of new freshmen (3.2 percent) and in graduate/professional enrollments (5.2 percent). Nationally, public universities saw a decline of 4.0 percent in Black undergraduate enrollment. In Illinois, Black undergraduate enrollment was down only 0.8 percent.

The enrollment of public university Latinx students continued to rise to 27,868 students, an increase of 6.1 percent, or 1,594 students, over academic year 2019-2020. Growth was notable in both undergraduate enrollment (4.5 percent) and in graduate/professional enrollment (14.6 percent). Nationally, public university Latinx undergraduate enrollment was down 1.8 percent.

“This is the first year we have looked at our early enrollment data through an equity lens. Illinois public universities beat national trends, increasing enrollment for Black and Latinx students. We were very deliberate about investing in supports for our most vulnerable students,” said IBHE Director Ginger Ostro. “With $30 million in federal funds provided for institutions through Governor JB Pritzker’s Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, private funding to provide emergency grants to students, creating a drive-up WiFi hotspot map, and launching a public education campaign, “Stay the Course,” everything we did since March was focused on keeping students on track to their degree.”

More here.

* Campus numbers

* First-Time, Full-Time Undergraduates

* New Full-Time Transfer Students

* Continuing Undergraduate Students

- Posted by Rich Miller        

44 Comments
  1. - Downstate - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 2:48 pm:

    President Glassman at EIU is doing a masterful job of turning that ship around.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 2:55 pm:

    Really good news for the directional schools.

    Saving higher education is critical moving forward after this virus finds a downturn, hopefully in time for fall enrollment.

    Even better news for EIU, who a couple years ago was “almost” passively closed, now seems to be finding a resurgence.

    Chicago State… might be time to think of a retool/rebuild to your mission(?)


  3. - Frank talks - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 2:56 pm:

    IBHE should probably stop using the term LatinX since the Latino community has said repeatedly not to classify them that way?


  4. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:00 pm:

    I wonder how much of it is COVID-related, because many students might be thinking “why bother paying more to go to an out-of-state school when I won’t even be attending it in-person?” After COVID, we might see a spike in transfers.

    CSU…I know local politicians are heavily resistant to any changes, because they want to keep a university there, but this is just embarrassing (mixed with the abysmal graduation rate). It either needs to think about merging into a system or converting into a community college with a few four year programs available.


  5. - Crafty Veteran - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:05 pm:

    Since Illinois has big budget problems, now is the time to look at merging academic programs and closing down several universities. These numbers tell a lot. Having universities with less than 6,000 undergraduates is a luxury Illinois taxpayers can’t afford. The good is if you shut some places down and sell the property, you might just yield some new tax revenue.


  6. - Anon2 - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    How about some answers to really important questions, like the caliber of students that enrolled and where they’re from (in-state, out-of-state, international)? Are these universities drawing top talent or is a good portion of quality leaving IL to go to school in WI, IN, MI, etc?


  7. - Jake The Barber - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    Why should taxpayers pay for half-empty universities?


  8. - Non-Tenured Worker - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    It’s time to stop subsidizing medieval religions majors.


  9. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    “The good is if you shut some places down and sell the property, you might just yield some new tax revenue.”

    Yes, because someone would want to buy dozens of abandoned and outdated academic, administrative, and residential buildings in towns that became economically devastated after thousands of their residents became abruptly unemployed after a school closing.

    Simple solutions rarely exist in these types of discussions.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    === closing down several universities===

    This is why my mocking of Raunerites and budgets is just that, a mocking.

    The universities, they are the economic engines of their regions. Rauner ignited that too, trying to passively close them.

    === luxury Illinois taxpayers can’t afford===

    We are all taxpayers, and Witt that in mind, depressing regions with their largest employer, buyer, largest group of conduners for a town… ending Carbondale, Macomb, even Charleston, that’s not wise to the economics of Illinois, that’s Rsunerism ruining and starving downstate.

    === sell the property===

    My gosh, this is dorm room thinking about dorm rooms, lol

    The vastness of these footprints on these towns… there aren’t companies buying “campuses” anymore… so who exactly is going to buy these universities’ buildings?


  11. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:17 pm:

    === It’s time to stop subsidizing medieval religions majors.===

    Ok, name one that you currently know… (sigh)

    === Why should taxpayers pay for half-empty universities?===

    We are all taxpayers, including folks living in… DeKalb, Normal, Edwardsville, Carbondale, Macomb… we’re ONE state, these universities are employers, purchasers/consumers, investors… in their regions.

    Lacking that understanding is lacking the understanding why Rauner tried to close passively, not outright.


  12. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:19 pm:

    ===I wonder how much of it is COVID-related, because many students might be thinking “why bother paying more to go to an out-of-state school when I won’t even be attending it in-person?” After COVID, we might see a spike in transfers.

    More interesting is if you look at the New vs Continuing undegrads the success is keeping students more than recruiting new students. New students were down this year–not surprising given Covid.


  13. - bogey golfer - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:20 pm:

    Any breakdown on WIU’s numbers between the Macomb and Quad City campuses?


  14. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:21 pm:

    —Having universities with less than 6,000 undergraduates is a luxury Illinois taxpayers can’t afford.

    Let’s destroy the rural downstate economy faster. That’s a great idea.


  15. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:37 pm:

    ArchPundit - There is some variety between the First-Time, Full-Time Undergraduates vs. Continuing, but I’m seeing heavy increases in the former that is keeping many of the universities above water. This was surprising to me, because at the beginning of the pandemic I assumed first-time students would stick to community college for the time being. My only theory is a reduction in students going to pricey, out-of-state universities (for the time being).


  16. - Full tuition payer - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    Time to consider FTEs in state appropriations.


  17. - Because I said so.... - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:45 pm:

    —Having universities with less than 6,000 undergraduates is a luxury Illinois taxpayers can’t afford.-
    And not all college students can afford to live on campus. For some, the only financial option is to work and commute to school. So we should just disregard those students and the schools they serve?


  18. - Petey L. - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:47 pm:

    Eastern IL University shot themselves in the foot. 15 years ago they had between 10k-11k students and then it dropped drastically for the next 10-12 years. Mismanaged and bad marketing.

    Good for them they are bouncing back


  19. - City Zen - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 3:54 pm:

    ==Any breakdown on WIU’s numbers between the Macomb and Quad City campuses?==

    Macomb = 2,473
    QC = 299
    Extension = 3,453

    In 2019, Extension enrollment was 1,415. This tells me more than half of WIU students this year opted for non-traditional learning (independent study, weekends, on-line courses, distance learning).


  20. - City Zen - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 4:03 pm:

    ==Chicago State… might be time to think of a retool/rebuild to your mission(?)==

    Google Maps doesn’t even know where it is.


  21. - TNR - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 4:08 pm:

    Man, I knew UIC’s enrollment was steadily growing in recent years but didn’t realize it was that high.


  22. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 4:22 pm:

    What to do with CSU…


  23. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 4:23 pm:

    City Zen, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe all those “dual credit” high school classes offered by universities are technically “dual enrollment” classes and those numbers might show up in the extension category.


  24. - City Zen - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 4:40 pm:

    @Michelle - This was FTE enrollment for 2019:

    Macomb = 4,557
    QC = 435
    Extension = 1,415

    Seems that many WIU students opted for a different learning experience this year. Not sure where “dual credit” falls into that.


  25. - Goodson Oddman - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 4:41 pm:

    Chicagonk, One comparatively easy step is to get them the heck out of Division 1 athletics.

    A laughing stock, with literally the worst rating nationally in Men’s Basketball, a revolving door of athletic directors, and a “conference of last resort” with Denver as the nearest road trip (MO-Kansas City just left for WIUs conference to cut costs).


  26. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 4:54 pm:

    This is only the public four year enrollment picture. If you add students enrolled in Illinois’ private nonprofit universities you double the number of college students in Illinois.

    If you add in Illinois community college enrollment, you’d see an even larger number of college students enrolled in Illinois.

    IBHE would better serve us if they reported all of this data instead of focusing on only about one third of the college students in Illinois. We have a large and diverse higher education infrastructure but you’d never know it from this info.

    IBHE needs to remember that college means more than public universities. It’s time to merge the ICCB and ISAC into a new IBHE that is more representative, coordinated and efficient.


  27. - Richard - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 5:10 pm:

    Now let’s hear from the ICCB what their FTE numbers are, and figure out the COVID impact on that (many parents whose kids would have been out-of-staters have used community college while their kids were told don’t come to campus). But for higher ed in IL, you have to also look at the community college numbers.
    They have been dropping historically because 4 year schools have been cribbing the traditional community college student. We get the best value out of community college dollars and MAP grants for all higher ed spending.


  28. - Wilson from the Southside - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 5:18 pm:

    As a Chicago resident, why should subsidize little used schools downstate ? Especially since my kids aren’t going to college?


  29. - Jibba - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 5:20 pm:

    It is nonsense to close a university unless you have identified what you will do with the campus. Who will buy it or how will it be used?

    There are many things that can be done to deliver education more cheaply and quickly, because semester-long delivery cuts out many nontraditional learners. To cut costs I might end graduate school and intercollegiate athletics at struggling regionals. To deliver education faster and outside the regular format, I might add short courses at nights, weekends, or break times, increase web learning, partner or co-locate with the local community college, etc. Sadly, every regional is trying to be the next UI rather than considering the needs of their students.


  30. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 5:20 pm:

    === why should subsidize little used schools downstate ? Especially since my kids aren’t going to college?===

    Society is more than you and your kids.

    Your selfishness and “subsidize” shows you have no idea about what makes a society, including education.


  31. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 5:31 pm:

    ==Now let’s hear from the ICCB what their FTE numbers are==

    Go to the IBHE website. The report is here: https://www.ibhe.org/pdf/Preliminary_Fall_Enrollment_2020-21_Final.pdf

    The CC numbers are down significantly state-wide(-12.4%) which is similar to the national numbers.

    The expectation in April was that CC numbers would be up and residential universities down. The reality was the opposite.


  32. - Gianni Begood - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 6:28 pm:

    Chicago State appears to be a lost cause. And there doesn’t seem to be anyone coming to the rescue. Potential students have voted with their feet and stayed away in droves.


  33. - Sunnyside Sue - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 6:33 pm:

    -Society is more than you and your kids-

    Society is more than greedy , overpaid workers ripping off people who’s salaries don’t come from Illinois taxpayers.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 6:35 pm:

    === overpaid workers ripping off people who’s salaries don’t come from Illinois taxpayers.===

    LOL, they are also taxpayers, you can apply for those same jobs.

    Move to Carbondale, Macomb…

    Being angry about state works ain’t gettin’ ya no where.


  35. - Chicago Taxpayer - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 6:37 pm:

    -Your selfishness and “subsidize” shows you have no idea about what makes a society, including education-

    There’s nothing more selfish than asking taxpayers to fund little used schools whether it’s in Chicago or downstate.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 6:43 pm:

    === taxpayers===

    Again, - Chicago Taxpayer -

    We are all taxpayers, including folks living in… DeKalb, Normal, Edwardsville, Carbondale, Macomb… we’re ONE state, these universities are employers, purchasers/consumers, investors… in their regions.

    Lacking that understanding is lacking the understanding why Rauner tried to close passively, not outright.


  37. - Touchdown Rejus - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 7:14 pm:

    We should close UIS, CSU and NEIU


  38. - ChattyHam - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 8:12 pm:

    @47th Ward…It looks like IBHE released a report on the private colleges and community colleges too.https://www.ibhe.org/pdf/Preliminary_Fall_Enrollment_2020-21_Final.pdf


  39. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 8:22 pm:

    ===We should close UIS, CSU and NEIU===

    Based on your detailed analysis?

    The IBHE is in the midst of a long-needed strategic planning process. Fortunately, they are taking the time to look at the data and get input from all stakeholders (including taxpayers).


  40. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 8:37 pm:

    I wouldn’t make any assumptions about health of various schools based on 2020 enrollment. Lets see if enrollment reverses in Fall 2021. That said, Chicago State has been a long debated issue. There’s already a better public school in Chicago. Maybe the recent work on campus will yield a result, but I doubt it.


  41. - Blake - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 9:34 pm:

    Frank talks is right. Refer to people by the name they use for themselves. The Latinx thing is an academic creation not used by those it describes.


  42. - Joan Pantsios - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 9:41 pm:

    = Refer to people by the name they use for themselves. =

    I know plenty of Latinx people who use the term. They are not academics.


  43. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 11:45 pm:

    —=== why should subsidize little used schools downstate ? Especially since my kids aren’t going to college?

    Talk to your local businesses and see how their recruiting of skilled workers is going outside of the Chicago, Bloomington, and Champaign metros (and Bloomington and Champaign have issues even then).


  44. - 1st Ward - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 12:19 pm:

    Note the Trib is reporting if community colleges are included enrollment is down 5.4% YoY. They also report a 1.5% increase in graduate enrollment slightly less than what’s shown above. Not sure what the difference is on the latter.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-covid-19-illinois-college-enrollment-20201210-fidg5ek2ijemdcfgmstuthskc4-story.html


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