NIU enrollment at all-time peak

By Marianne Renner

NIU’s on-campus enrollment figures reached a record-breaking 23,118 this fall despite suffering from budget cuts.

The on-campus figures show an 838 (3.76 percent) increase from last year’s total of 22,280. This figure is 299 above the previous record of 22,819 set in 1971.

While on-campus enrollment is up, off-campus enrollment has decreased. Dr. Nick Noe director of institutional research said there are two primary reasons for the decrease.

“It (off-campus enrollment) is lower because of budget cuts for off-campus courses and because a large percentage of off-campus courses are late starting and the enrollment hasn’t been counted yet.”

NIU President John LaTourette said that when the end-of-semester figures are recorded from off-campus extention courses, the total could surpass the 1980 record of 26,064.

The total enrollment of 25,455 is 2.4 percent below the record and is NIU’s fourth highest ever. It is also up 3.1 percent from last year’s 24,680.

One reason for the increase is the rise of economic return with a college education. “The additional money earned during a lifetime with a college degree is a primary reason,” Noe said.

Noe said the number of high school graduates and parents’ capability of sending children to college have increased.

LaTourette said total enrollment would be higher if budget cuts had not forced the cancellation of some off-campus courses.

The College of Professional Studies was the only college to decrease in total number of enrollment from last year. Its total dropped by 3.3 percent.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences had the lowest increase (1.5 percent) and the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology had the highest increase (19.3 percent).

The College of Business was the next lowest with a 2.2 percent increase followed by the College of Visual and Performing Arts with a 4 percent increase and the College of Education with a 7.6 percent increase. The second highest increase was the College of Law with a 13.1 percent jump.

“It’s bitterly ironic that we hit a historic peak in enrollment at the same time our state appropriation is 4.5 percent less than the year before. More students and less money is not an ideal equation, ” LaTourette said.

On-campus undergraduate enrollment increased by 3 percent from last year and graduate enrollment increased by 6.7 percent.

LaTourette said if NIU had a different political climate and more equitable funding, it would easily reach a total student enrollment of 30,000 before 1989.