A 15-year enrollment decline on SIU's Carbondale campus has continued into another academic year, with the university reporting more than a thousand fewer students on campus this fall than there were a year ago.
SIUC Chancellor John Dunn said Wednesday that fall 2019 enrollment stands at 11,695 students -- an 8.75 percent decrease from fall 2018. Dunn said the expected decrease wasn't quite as steep as some had anticipated.
"We graduated a relatively large class of nearly 2,600 students in the spring," he said. "We knew we were starting from a significant deficit at the same time we are reengineering our recruitment and retention efforts."
Dunn said the number of new, first-time students decreased by fewer than 100 to 1,037, an 8.47 percent decline. He suggested that new programs in nursing, business analytics and other areas will help close this gap in future years.
This fall's numbers represent the lowest
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campus enrollment in decades, and they fall far short of SIUC's enrollment peak of nearly 25,000 in 1991. With limited exceptions, enrollment on the Carbondale campus has been on a steady dive since 2004.
In 2018, enrollment on the SIU Edwardsville campus bested that on the Carbondale campus for the first time in the university system's history. While SIUE saw its own modest enrollment decline this fall, far greater losses on the Carbondale campus resulted in Edwardsville nearly tripling the margin of its enrollment lead over Carbondale for the fall 2019 semester.
Dunn pointed to other positive takes on the enrollment picture. He said the average ACT score for the new incoming class was 24.40, up from last year's more than 20-year record of 23.65. The freshman to sophomore retention rate is 75 percent, compared to 71 percent in fall 2018.
"Enrollment is as much about retaining students as it is about attracting new students," Dunn said.
Other facts released by the university this week:
• New freshman and transfer students represent 42 states and 20 countries.
• The top 10 majors of new freshmen and transfer students are animal science, automotive technology, aviation flight, biological sciences, business, criminology and criminal justice, mechanical engineering, psychology, radiologic sciences and zoology.
• About 25 percent of all students are minority, and about 8 percent are international.