University News

Fall 2021 Enrollment Exceeds Expectations: Int'l Enrollment at Record High; Graduate, Dual Enrollment Increases; Overall Enrollment Level

September 16, 2021

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – This fall, Western Illinois University is experiencing the highest international student enrollment in 30 years, and is also seeing an increase in new graduate student enrollment.

The number of international students enrolling this fall - 658 total, which includes new (424) and returning (234) international students – is a historical record for Western. According to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the last peak in international enrollment occurred in 1987 with 574 students. New entering graduate student enrollment has increased by 36.7 percent, while total graduate enrollment has increased 26.0 percent.

"I would like to thank everyone who played a role in increasing our new student enrollment this fall. When I took over as your president in January 2021, one of the main initiatives put into place was to further enhance our recruitment and enrollment management strategies. We are well on our way to achieving our goals of increasing the number of students who select WIU for their college education," said WIU President Guiyou Huang. "Under the direction of our new vice president for enrollment management, Amber Schultz, I have no doubt that we will meet our enrollment and retention goals."

Western has maintained a stable enrollment of new students (freshmen, transfer, graduate), with 2,346 new students joining WIU this fall.

"The efforts of our entire University community have assisted in stabilizing our enrollments. Randy Glean, executive director of Global Studies, has worked tirelessly to build a truly global reputation for WIU, while increasing our international student enrollments in record ways. Justin Schuch, executive director of retention initiatives, has led the drive to increase retention and our School of Graduate Studies, led by Associate Provost Mark Mossman, has worked to enhance our graduate programs," said Interim Provost Billy Clow.

Total enrollment is 7,455, which is nearly level to Fall 2020, according to 10th-day data released by WIU's Institutional Research and Planning. [Fall 2020 enrollment figures are available at]

"I look forward to continuing Western's positive enrollment momentum for Spring 2022, next fall and beyond by recovering lost market shares and by standing out in a very competitive recruitment environment," Schultz added. "WIU is an exceptional University and I am excited to put initiatives and efforts in place that ensure our continued growth."

WIU's fall-to-fall retention rate for first-year students is 71.9 percent. According to Schuch, within this class, the University is seeing encouraging trends in its underrepresented student populations, with Latinx students from the Fall 2020 cohort returning at a rate of 78 percent.

Dual enrollment (high school students who are taking classes at WIU during their junior or senior years) has also increased by nearly 47 percent.

"We are actively working to recruit and enroll students for Spring 2022 and Fall 2022, and we will continue to adapt and implement new ideas so that prospective students and their families know that WIU's Macomb and Quad Cities campuses, as well as our remote learning programs, provide the outstanding opportunities they need, want and deserve from a public higher education institution," Huang added. "Equally important is student retention, and we will continue to build our retention initiatives to ensure our students are supported and successful at WIU, from start to finish."

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