EIU pushing for continuous increase in enrollment numbers

CHARLESTON, Ill. (AP) — Student enrollment at Eastern Illinois University has been growing for the last three-straight years, continuing with a 10.5% increase this fall.

Even during the global pandemic, enrollment numbers are at the highest point since 2014, at 8,628 students. The number of student-athletes has also increased, despite scholarship cuts that the athletic director was forced to make as a result of a budget impasse.

The most significant factor in this fall's double-digit enrollment increase is due to the university's dual-credit program, according to The News-Gazette. EIU’s growing dual-credit program works with smaller, rural schools in East Central Illinois to provide opportunities that might not otherwise exist given necessary instructor requirements like a master’s degree.

An emphasis on the dual-credit program helped boost the number of new admissions from 1,580 during the fall semester of 2019 to 2,228 in the numbers released earlier this month for fall 2020.

Josh Norman, EIU vice president for enrollment management, said those numbers are not an accurate representation of the number of students actually on campus. The on-campus and off-campus denotations are based on courses, which the pandemic has increasingly pushed online. A student living in a campus residence hall taking all online classes, for example, would be regarded as an off-campus student for enrollment calculation purposes, he said.

Norman said about one-third of the total student population is taking all in-person classes, while the rest either have a mix between in-person and online classes, or all online classes.

EIU's next step is maintaining the enrollment increases. The selling point, Norman said, is stressing the university's low cost of attendance, its average of 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and its constant graduation rate of 90%.