Monday, February 09, 2009

UIS experiences increase in spring enrollment

The University of Illinois at Springfield has experienced an increase in enrollment this spring. A total of 4,535 students are attending UIS, 105 more than last spring, or 2.3%. Most of the growth is due to a larger 2008 freshman class and more new students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

According to Marya Leatherwood, Director of Enrollment Management, more students tend to enroll at the university when the economy is struggling. “During times like these, they think about investing in an advanced degree, earning a certificate, or even pursuing another area of study in order to make a career change,” she said. “Our online degrees and evening and weekend formats make it easy for working adults to consider coming back to school.”

Leatherwood noted that UIS is seeing a “steady level of students enrolling who are not currently seeking degrees.” Many of those students, particularly at the graduate level, are pursuing certificates in professional areas of study, she said.

A total of 2,785 undergraduates are enrolled at UIS this spring, up 5.7% compared to last spring. However, the number of graduate students – 1,750 – is down 2.5% over last year. The 2008 freshman class comprised of 309 students, as well as 352 new transfer students and 342 new graduate students, are reasons why enrollment is up over last year.

Undergraduate programs with the highest enrollments are Business Administration, Psychology, Liberal Studies, Computer Science, and Accountancy. At the graduate level, Teacher Leadership, Computer Science, Management Information Systems, Public Administration, and Business Administration have the highest enrollments.

Online enrollments climbing
Students majoring in degree programs at UIS that are fully online are at an all-time high for a spring semester, said Ray Schroeder, Director of the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning. There are 1,177 online degree majors this spring, an increase of 98 students over last spring, or 9%. UIS offers 16 degrees programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels that are fully online. And enrollments in online classes at UIS have set a new all-time record of 4,058, an increase of 128 students over last spring.

“The continued growth of online learning at UIS is a reflection of the quality and reputation of the online undergraduate and graduate-degree programs,” Schroeder said. “In this time of economic and job insecurity, many students appreciate knowing that their online classes are portable; that is, they can follow the student wherever he/she lives and whatever work schedule comes their way.”

Schroeder said UIS has begun to offer more blended learning classes (where some of the class meetings are on campus and some are online). The initiative, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has resulted in a significant increase in blended class enrollments. A total of 237 students are enrolled in blended classes this spring compared to last spring’s total of 88.
Schroeder said a total of 155 UIS faculty members are teaching at least one online class this semester.

Looking ahead to fall, Leatherwood said applications for the freshman class are up by 25% compared to last year at this time. “More of our applicants are deciding earlier to make their enrollment deposits to ensure a place in the freshman class,” she said. Deposits are up slightly more than 50% compared to last year at this time.

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