By DYLAN SMITH, NEWS3 Reporter
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Western Illinois University’s total enrollment is about level with last fall.
The fall 2020 semester accounted for 7,490 students while this fall tallied 7,455. WIU is experiencing record-high international student enrollment, 658, while graduate-student enrollment increased by 26 percent.
Over the past five years, enrollment has decreased almost 30 percent. Despite years of declining enrollment, the fall 2021 numbers encourage growth. New Vice President for Enrollment Management Amber Schultz said she looks to continue in the positive direction as she has been in such situations before.
“Stable enrollment is a challenging feat these days with declining demographics, the competition for students, and then the challenges that COVID-19 brought to us,” Schultz said. “Western Illinois has experienced very similar challenges to other campuses I have served in the past, so I wasn’t a complete stranger to things.”
Before coming to WIU, Schultz worked at Edgewood College in the same position. In Schultz’s tenure at Edgewood, she received the largest new entering class in recent history. Schultz says the pre-pandemic initiatives that could not be used in the past year suggested another declining year.
“In terms of not being able to host large on-campus visits , having people not wanting to come for daily campus visits, not being able to get in front of high-school students, or community college students in their environment,” said Schultz. “As we were entering into the summer months, it was looking like we would actually be down on enrollment.”
Admission for next semester and next school year have already begun and look to build upon an encouraging fall 2021.