Despite the economic and emotional hardships many face amid the coronavirus pandemic, enrollment at the University of Illinois System reached record-setting heights for the eighth consecutive year, topping 90,000 students, system president Tim Killeen announced Wednesday.
The University of Illinois System, which has campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, has 90,343 students enrolled this fall. That’s a 1.2% increase from the 89,270 students a year ago.
The rise in enrollment numbers is in part caused by the increase in graduate students over the last year. Graduate enrollment is up 4.9%, from 25,669 last fall to 26,937. Meanwhile, undergraduate and professional students numbers took a slight hit, with both showing a .3% dip in enrollment.
The system’s largest institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recorded 52,331 students this fall — a jump of more than 1,000 students from last year. The school also announced a 9% increase in enrollment among graduate students, which it attributed to its vast amount of online programs.
Meanwhile, the University of Illinois-Chicago reported its sixth consecutive year of record enrollment, with 33,518 students.
The only institution in the system that reported a drop in enrollment is the University of Illinois-Springfield, which saw a 3% decrease to 4,146 students from 4,275 in fall 2019.
Killeen said he believes the university system’s ability to maintain a high enrollment during the pandemic is because of its efforts to promote both student safety and affordability amid the crisis.
In addition to having a hybrid of online and in-person classes, Illinois developed safety measures, which include a saliva-based COVID-19 test administered twice a week to all students residing in the area, as well as to other campus personnel who report to university facilities. The university also provided emergency grants to assist several thousand students whose incomes were disrupted or had additional educational expenses caused by the pandemic.
“Even in a year of historic challenges, enrollment grew to another all-time high,” Killeen said in a statement. “I am proud that students continue to turn to our universities to achieve their dreams, and help us expand the pipeline of world-class talent that will move our state and nation forward.”