Optimism about enrollment at SIUC

By Gus Bode

On the 10th day of each semester, Illinois’ universities and community colleges are required to report to the state Board of Higher Education an official enrollment figure based on the headcount taken on that date. We recently released SIUC’s 10th-day enrollment for spring 2009. I believe a brief analysis is in order.

1) On campus, there are 17, 226 students attending SIUC’s spring semester classes. That’s a decline of 1.3 percent, or 233 students, from spring 2008. The drop is confined to students in our junior and senior classes. This decline is to be expected for it originates from declines in previous years. Overall, combined on- and off-campus enrollment is down 2 percent. The good news is that our freshman and sophomore classes are up, continuing a trend that started a few years ago thanks to the hard work of our revamped enrollment management office and many others on campus.

2) Our off-campus numbers are down 7.2 percent, mainly due to a drop in enrollment at programs offered at military bases around the country. It is our hope that those figures will turn around as U.S. troops in Iraq and elsewhere begin coming home. Further, federal financial aid programs for veterans will benefit servicemen and servicewomen who want to attend college.

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3) The number of on-campus students who transfer from community colleges and other universities to SIUC is still down, but only by a modest seven students, from last spring. I expect that the system service centers set up by the president’s office at the region’s community colleges to begin paying dividends soon. These offices are designed to help students at two-year colleges make a successful transition to SIUC.’

We have developed some new initiatives designed to increase enrollment for fall 2009.

1) We are aggressively recruiting students from Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Arkansas, offering them SIUC’s in-state tuition rate. We are doing this to remain competitive with the universities in these states that are undercutting our rates. The added revenue is needed to support our programs, especially in light of expected cuts in support from the state of Illinois.

2) We are offering new and attractive academic programs beginning in fall 2009.’ I am confident that this will lead to an increase in the number of students attending SIUC.

3) We are aggressively marketing the university and have stepped up our recruitment efforts. SIUC is a very attractive value for a great number of students, and we are proud to get our message out.

We face many challenges as we move to increase enrollment. The weak economy is a very serious obstacle and the unsettled situation at the state level is creating uncertainty.

Still, we are facing our future with optimism.

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Goldman is the chancellor of SIUC.’

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