UIUC enrollment tops 50,000 for first time
UIC hits 33,000 as U. of I. System sets record for seventh straight year
By Ted Cox
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign topped 50,000 students for the first time, the Chicago campus hit 33,000, and across the system for the state’s flagship public university enrollment set a new record for the seventh straight year in annual figures released Thursday.
Tenth-day enrollment figures for the University of Illinois System found a record 88,861 students at the three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield — a 3.8 percent increase on last year’s 85,597. UIUC reported the same percentage increase in topping 50,000 students for the first time, with 51,196. UIC increased 5.4 percent to 33,390, the fifth straight record year. The smaller, liberal-arts Springfield campus actually reported a 6.6 percent drop to 4,275 students, but the university blamed that on a reduction in part-time students, as full-time enrollment held study while the campus welcomed a record 373 freshmen, an 18 percent increase from last year.
System President Tim Killeen said the university is on pace to meet its goal to register 93,600 students overall by fall 2021. He noted that Illinois was actively combatting student flight to colleges out of state, which reached a crisis stage during the two-year state budget impasse imposed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner. In-state freshmen saw their tuitions frozen for the fifth straight year — the longest level stretch in 40 years at the university — and financial aid has tripled over the last decade to $230 million annually. Across the three campuses, enrollment has risen 9 percent since 2016, or about 7,400 students.
“Students are at the center of everything we do, and we are committed to opening our doors wider, providing opportunities that will transform more lives and expand the pipeline of world-class talent that drives progress for our state and nation,” Killeen said in a statement as part of a news release on fall enrollment.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker cheered the persistent progress, saying, “When our state sends the message that Illinois schools are world-class centers of learning and are worth our investments, they attract world-class students. Since taking office, I’ve worked hand-in-hand with members of both parties to give our students the funding they deserve, whether it’s expanding scholarships to another 10,000 students, increasing operating funding for all our schools and universities, or investing $3 billion in fixing facilities and building world-class classrooms. Higher education in Illinois has a bright future.”
“When our state sends the message that Illinois schools are world-class centers of learning and are worth our investments, they attract world-class students.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker (One Illinois/Ted Cox)
UIUC placed 48th nationally in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings released last week, giving the state three universities in the top 50, along with the private University of Chicago and Northwestern in the top 10. UIUC ranked 14th nationwide among public universities.
UIC added 1,066 students by adopting Chicago’s John Marshall Law School this fall, but even without that the system added 2,198 students, a 2.6 percent increase. In-state students continued to make up the bulk of the system — more than 80 percent of undergraduates — rising 1.6 percent this fall to 46,705. But the number of International students also continued to rise, up 2 percent to 15,666, and the student body is gaining in diversity, with Hispanic undergraduates up 5.9 percent to 11,881, the 15th straight increase, while African-American undergrads rose 2.4 percent to 4,138 — the seventh straight gain.
The number of incoming freshmen at UIC rose 6 percent to 4,407, while UIUC recorded a more modest 0.7 percent increase in freshmen to 7,665.
Some 43,509 prospective freshmen applied at the Urbana-Champaign campus this year. Of those accepted, 5,698 were Illinois residents, and a quarter were the first in their families to attend college. Some 23.2 percent were from minority groups. Overall, they posted an average ACT score of 29 and a 1,348 on the SAT.
It was the ninth straight year UIUC gained students.