Enrollment falls by almost 500

By Keith Hernandez

When NIU President Doug Baker announced a 2.3 percent decrease in 2015 fall enrollment at a University Council meeting Wednesday, he said it was significantly lower than expected.

Fall numbers have dropped by more than 3,700 since 2010, but 2015 has seen the smallest dip at 481 students. While the one-year retention rate for freshmen increased from 71 percent to 72 percent, the honors program saw the most significant increase with a growth of 31 percent — almost 100 students — from last year.

“I think these trends are positive trends,” Baker said. “What we’re seeing here are numbers of the future.”

It is too early to know how these figures will affect the budget, but the administration will have a better idea in the coming weeks, said Alan Phillips, vice president of Administration and Finance.

“Because the enrollment was better than we projected … that could be savings or additional revenue or revenue we didn’t lose in the millions of dollars,” Phillips said.

International student enrollment is up by 121 students compared to last year’s number of 1,090. Phillips attributed the slow down in overall falling enrollment to NIU’s marketing, admissions and recruiting efforts.

“Hopefully next year we’ll be back to where we’re increasing enrollment.

Enrollment challenges

There are a few major challenges for enrollment in Illinois public universities, said Eric Weldy, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, at a town hall meeting Sept. 2. Chief among these challenges are the more than 30,000 students who attend colleges in other states every year, Weldy said.