WIU enrollment drops nearly 900 students from last year

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — Western Illinois University officials released current enrollment numbers for the fall 2019 school semester on Thursday.

According to WIU’s Institutional Research and Planning 10th-day results, total enrollment for fall 2019 is 7,624. In fall 2018, Western had 8,502 students. Enrollment dropped 878 students from last year.

“While this fall’s total new student enrollment has not decreased as dramatically as the last few years, I’m still disappointed in the size of the decline this fall,” WIU Acting President Martin Abraham said. “We must – and we will – stop this trend. Western is a phenomenal school, with outstanding academic programs and extracurricular opportunities, along with great faculty and staff, all at a terrific value. We cannot change what has occurred the past few years. What we can do is to get better and do better, and we will. Our students deserve that; the residents of Illinois deserve that.”

WIU University Relations said total new student enrollment, which officials included freshmen, transfers and graduates, is 2,071. Officials told NEWS3 there are 895 freshmen this year compared to 934 freshmen last fall 2018.

Total undergraduate enrollment is 5,958 and total graduate enrollment is 1,666, according to WIU’s press release. There are 6,432 students enrolled at WIU’s Macomb campus and 1,192 students at the Quad Cities campus.

“Our attention is on Spring and Fall 2020, and it’s going to take everyone doing his or her part,” Abraham said. “We will turn it around, but we have to develop a new approach and have different ways of thinking. We cannot continue to do the same thing from years past. Our goal is to have a larger incoming class next fall, and even larger by Fall 2021. It’s a tough goal, but I’m confident we will get this done.”

WIU said retention increased to 67.5 percent from 65.3 percent in fall 2018 of new freshmen fall-to-fall enrollment.

“I am pleased we’ve seen retention rates increase over the past few years; however, we can do better,” Abraham said. “We will implement new, and expand upon current, early intervention initiatives to ensure our students’ success. We will be more proactive. Our goal is to graduate our students, preferably in four years, and without debt.”

WIU officials said Acting President Abraham formed four teams to look at enrollment, retention, graduate and international enrollment and distance learning. Officials said they gave the teams, which have six to 10 faculty and staff from particular subject areas, the task to come up with concrete ideas, solutions and action plans the university can put into place beginning this academic year to reverse the trend of decreasing enrollment.

Officials said this fall 2019 new freshmen, transfers, and graduates enrollment combined is WIU’s lowest decline since fall 2015. Since then, Western has lost 3,470 students.

Fall 2018 enrollment numbers can be found here.