Daily Egyptian

Spring enrollment dips from previous year

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

A decade ago, university enrollment was at more than 20,000. Enrollment has now fallen below 16,000 students.

SIU’s enrollment is down from the 2015 spring semester by 878 students, according to a university statement released Tuesday.  

University officials, interim Chancellor Brad Colwell said, expected the decrease as low spring numbers are a result of low fall numbers.  

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Graduate enrollment dropped nearly 12 percent from the previous spring semester, with 420 students fewer graduate students.

“In part, we attribute the additional decline in graduate enrollment to the delayed decision to award graduate assistantships given the uncertainty in the state budget,” the news release said. 

Many graduate students were on newly-introduced single-semester assistantship contracts and were concerned about renewal of their contracts this spring until Colwell issued a statement on Oct. 26 telling the university to move forward with those renewals.

“At the time, it seemed like the fiscally-wise thing to do because we didn’t have any sense of the what the budget was going to be,” University Spokesperson Rae Goldsmith said, “but it had unintended consequences because it created a lot of uncertainty.”

For future semesters, Goldsmith said the university knows it must inform students earlier.

“This year we know that we cannot do that again even though we know we’re in exactly the same spot we were in last year,” Goldsmith said. “We can’t leave students hanging like that because they have other choices.”

While enrollment decreased by nearly 900, enrollment declined at a steady rate from spring 2015, instead of sharply falling all at once.

Colwell attributes this to the university’s decision to continue funding Monetary Award Program grants for undergraduates.

Because this this academic year’s decline in undergraduate admissions, however, Goldsmith said recruitment is one of Colwell’s top priorities as chancellor. 

“We’re trying to build additional bridges between the academic units and admissions so that everybody’s rowing in the same direction,” Goldsmith said.

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3326

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