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‘Gaining momentum': WIU enrollment is up

Students in food court - Chichi.jpg
Chiamaka Ezeobi
WIU students hanging out in the food court in the University Union on September 8, 2022.

Western Illinois University’s overall enrollment is up this fall and the freshman class is the largest in the last five years.

The overall headcount is 7,643, an increase of 2.5% from last fall. That includes 1,074 new freshmen this fall, an increase of 16.7%.

“We’re super excited about that,” said Amber Schultz, WIU’s Vice President for Enrollment Management.

Schultz said the increase in freshman enrollment is important not only to the university but also to the community.

“Our new entering freshmen students live on campus, they go shopping in the community, and they really are part of Macomb and the Quad Cities,” she said.

Western also has 1,108 international students, an all-time high for the institution. 420 of them are new this school year.

Schultz said WIU is working hard to welcome students and provide them with an optimal experience so that they remain with the school for four years.

“This year we launched a brand-new kind of on-boarding experience that we’re calling ‘Leathernecks First Four’ so that we’re paying careful attention to what our students need during their first four days, first four weeks, and their first four months to ensure that they stay through that four-year time period,” she said.

“That they’re experiencing academic and career success, that they are financially healthy, they feel like they belong and are welcome here on campus, and that they have an opportunity to grow.”

Of the overall enrollment, she said Western has 6,763 students in Macomb.

Several other public universities in Illinois are also experiencing enrollment increases.

Schultz said the universities have been working with the Illinois Board of Higher Education to convince Illinois students to attend in-state colleges and universities.

“I’m guessing that when many of us are up, especially on new entering first-year students, that hopefully that’s a sign that we’re making progress on curbing out-migration,” she said.

Schultz said Western has a goal of increasing enrollment by 15% by 2027. She said this is a great start to that plan, and she’s not slowing down. Schultz said she’s already recruiting for the future.

“We already have applications rolling in for Fall ’23 and obviously also Spring,” she said. “There’s never a dull moment. We’re busy recruiting for the next year.”

In a news release, WIU President Guiyou Huang said enrollment and retention is everybody’s responsibility.

“We’re gaining momentum, and our work continues to actively recruit and enroll new Leathernecks for Spring 2023 and Fall 2023,” the president said.

Last fall’s total enrollment at WIU was 7,455, which was nearly level compared to Fall 2020.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.