University News

WIU Fall 2020 Enrollment Sees Gains Over Past Decade

September 10, 2020


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – For the first time in 10 years, new student enrollment at Western Illinois University has increased.

The number of new freshmen enrolling at Western this fall stands at 1,064, 18.9 percent over Fall 2019, while new transfer students total 721 (9.2 percent over Fall 2019) and new graduate students stand at 569 (10.3 percent over Fall 2019), for a total new student increase of 13.7 percent. In addition, the grade point average (GPA) of the incoming freshman class has increased to 3.49 (compared to 3.40 in Fall 2019).

Total enrollment as of the 10th day is 7,490, according to 10th-day data released by WIU's Institutional Research and Planning.

Besides the increase in new students, WIU's Fall 2020 enrollment has increased 7.1 percent over Spring 2020. According to Gary Swegan, interim associate vice president for enrollment management, Western has not seen a spring-to-fall increase since 2016.

"Last year when I took over as interim president, I stated publicly that our number one objective was to improve enrollment and retention. For the first time in 10 years, new student enrollment has increased relative to last fall," said Interim President Martin Abraham. "In addition, overall WIU enrollment had declined for each of the past six semesters. That's an unusual trend, since fall enrollment is normally higher than spring, so I stated a second enrollment goal for us: that our Fall 2020 enrollment would exceed our Spring 2020 enrollment. I am proud to say that we have broken that eight semester streak."

In addition to an increase in new student enrollment, fall-to-fall retention (Fall 2019 to Fall 2020) of first-time, full-time freshmen increased to 77.0 percent, up from 67.5 percent last fall. Swegan added that WIU's freshman retention has not been achieved in 15 years and the University's transfer retention of 82.3 percent was only bettered once in WIU's history.

"I am particularly pleased to see this increase in retention," Abraham added. "One of our goals is to attract well-qualified students who can succeed and remain enrolled through graduation. Increasing first-year and transfer retention are critical markers on the path to completion."

Another goal set by Abraham was to further diversify Western's student body, and enhance the University's diversity initiatives. This fall, WIU has seen an increase in minority enrollment to 34.9 percent, up from 32.4 percent last year.

"Our success is no doubt due to increased outreach into the Chicago area and our new scholarship program based on geography, but it is also a result of renewed efforts to reach out to our Black Chicago-based alumni, and the work of our Multicultural Center staff, among others on campus, who are working to provide enhanced services and support for our diverse student body," he added.

Total undergraduate enrollment is 5,854 and total graduate enrollment is 1,636. [Fall 2019 enrollment figures are available at wiu.edu/news/newsrelease.php?release_id=16622].

"We still have a lot of work to do on each of the goals that we laid out last year, despite the phenomenal progress that we have made. Enrollment needs to continue to move in a positive direction and we will continue to work on enhancing retention," Abraham concluded. "Our admissions, enrollment management, and retention staff are to be commended for their tireless efforts. They took charge of the goals that were set, and worked hard to not only meet, but exceed, those goals. Finally, I extend my deepest appreciation to our faculty and staff for everything you've done in the past 12 months to ensure we remain a strong and viable University. This could not be achieved without an 'all in' attitude. I'm honored to be a part of Western Illinois University and work beside each of you."

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations