http://ift.tt/2kcFcGILainie Steelman, Reporter/Lifestyle Editor
MACOMB — Western Illinois University’s vice president for students services reports the university’s spring 2017 enrollment is slightly better than expected.
Tenth day enrollment numbers, released by the university on Wednesday, show a total spring semester enrollment of 9,469. The Macomb campus enrollment stands at 8,155 students and the Quad Cities campus at 1,314.
The spring 2017 enrollment is a 6.2 percent decline from the spring 2016 enrollment, but Ronald Williams, Western’s vice president for student services, said on Thursday the university is pleased with spring 2017 enrollment.
“It actually came in better than we were anticipating in light of the budget impasse,” Williams said.
The state’s nearly two-years-long budget impasse has particularly impacted public higher education. Due to Illinois’ uncertain fiscal future, many Illinois students have opted to put off attending a four-year institution or have chosen an out-of-state university.
Western’s fall 2016 total enrollment was down 6.5 percent compared to fall 2015, marking the largest enrollment decline in 10 years.
The fall 2016 enrollment was 10,373. While that’s 904 more students than the spring 2017 enrollment, universities historically show a large drop in enrollment going from fall to spring semester, according to Darcie Shinberger, Western’s director of university relations and assistant vice president of advancement/public services.
“It’s not unusual to have some students not return and we have mid-term graduation in there as well,” Shinberger explained.
According to a news release from the university, 781 Western students earned academic degrees or post-baccalaureate certificates at the conclusion of the fall 2016.
Western’s decision in December 2015 to cut tuition by three percent helped stave off a deeper decline in enrollment amid the state’s fiscal crisis, according Williams.
“It resulted in us having a level freshmen class,” Williams said. “We are hopeful that will continue to help us.”
The WIU Board of Trustees in December of last year moved to keep the current tuition rate level for new fall 2017 students.
While overall student enrollment has shown a trend of decline over the past few years, international student enrollment has increased, according to Williams. He said that’s due to the university’s ramped-up outreach efforts to attract more international students.
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