By DYLAN SMITH, NEWS3 Reporter
Macomb, Illinois (NEWS3) – After years of steady decline in enrollment at Western Illinois University, the school is seeing a slight increase in spring enrollment.
Compared to fall 2021, the numbers have dipped a bit, but compared to last spring numbers are slightly higher. A spring 2022 enrollment of 6,980 surpasses the spring 2021 mark of 6,965. Vice President for Enrollment Management Amber Schultz says it’s all about baby steps and hitting semester goals to get WIU back on track.
“Increases in enrollment are challenging,” Schultz said. “We’re in a very fiercely competitive recruitment environment landscape right now. Most campuses are excited to be flat (in terms of enrollment numbers0, and this is closer to flat than it is growth, but it’s stable. I think it’s a great sign that we are turning the corner.”
The biggest increases overall were shown in international students and graduate students. More than 300 new grad students are enrolled this semester, bringing the total to 2,117.
Schultz said the university is on a 20 percent enrollment increase plan. She says that’s the number WIU would like to see by 2027. Because the past semester didn’t experience the desired 3 percent growth, Schultz says she’s hopeful to make up some ground in the fall.
“Right now, things look promising to be able to accomplish that goal,” Schultz said. “Again, we’re in an environment where any increase is awesome, it’s very good news.”
Current recruiting efforts focus on getting prospective students to campus, Schultz said. This includes outreach programs such as Discover Western and one-on-one visit days.