February 05, 2019
DeKALB, Ill. – Northern Illinois University today released its Tenth Day Count for the Spring 2019 semester.
The student census showed a 5.5 percent decline in enrollment compared to the same time last year. That outcome was consistent with expectations based upon the fall enrollment numbers and aligns with university projections for enrollment trends in the short term. The total enrollment number for Spring 2019 was 15,755.
“Historically, spring enrollment numbers track very closely with those of the previous fall, and that is the case here,” said Sol Jensen, NIU Vice President for Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications. “As we said a few weeks ago, when we released our five-year Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, we expect that total enrollment will decline for another year or so before starting to climb again.”
That plan, Jensen said, specifically identifies strategies to address some of the underlying issues that have contributed to enrollment declines. The plan seeks to establish a sustainable enrollment of 17,000 to 18,000 students by 2023. It will do so by increasing diversity, expanding online-education opportunities and working to improve retention, especially among populations that have historically had difficulty persisting to graduation.
In terms of diversity, under the new plan, NIU will strive to increase enrollment among international and out-of-state students. The university also will capitalize upon demographic trends in the region with increased efforts to attract Latinx students.
As for online education, the plan calls for the university to increase the number of all-online degree programs offered and to grow the online student population to 1,400 – an increase of 1,000 students compared to today. “We recognize this as a major area of growth potential and have already established strategic partnerships that we believe can help us reach that goal,” Jensen said.
Retention also will play a key role in growing enrollment, and the university is committed to expanding and strengthening advising and academic-support services on campus, with a particular focus on assisting under-represented students (who historically graduate at lower rates) so that they can overcome some of the hurdles that stand in their way.
The university also will review its current financial and scholarship practices, looking for ways to use those resources to not only attract students, but also support them through graduation. Work will also begin soon to create a financial literacy program to help students improve their financial management skills and make better decisions about investing in their education.
“Concurrent with all of those efforts, NIU is also investing in new and better technology to help us find potential students and to communicate with them about the amazing opportunities that NIU provides for an outstanding and personalized education,” Jensen said.
“It will take some time, but in a few years, we hope to see these enrollment reports trending in a better direction,” he added.
Northern Illinois University is a student-centered, nationally recognized public research university, with expertise that benefits its region and spans the globe in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, humanities, arts, business, engineering, education, health and law. Through its main campus in DeKalb, Illinois, and education centers for students and working professionals in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, NIU offers more than 100 courses of study while serving a diverse and international student body. The 17 NIU Huskie athletic teams compete in the Mid-American Conference at the highest NCAA Division I level. For more information, visit www.niu.edu.