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U of I System targets enrollment increase to more than 93,600
15% growth plan would serve students; expand workforce pipeline

January 18, 2017

CHICAGO — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen will outline plans Thursday to increase enrollment over the next five years by nearly 15 percent, to more than 93,600 students across the U of I System’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

Killeen said the growth plan will expand academic programs by capitalizing on the unique strengths of each university, and will raise the U of I System’s commitment to Illinois students.

“Big numbers aside, this enrollment initiative is really all about opportunity – giving more students the opportunity for a world-class education that will transform their lives and seizing on our opportunity to serve the needs of the state by expanding the pipeline of talent that is so critical to its future,” Killeen said.

Killeen’s report on the enrollment plan will be presented to the Board of Trustees during its meeting Thursday at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The meeting begins at 8 a.m. in Michele M. Thompson Rooms B and C at Student Center West, 828 S. Wolcott Ave., Chicago.

Recent efforts have increased System-wide enrollment to record highs each of the last two years, topping 81,000 students last fall. Under the five-year plan, System-wide enrollment is projected to grow by more than 12,100 students, from 81,499 in the fall of 2016 to 93,646 in the fall of 2021. Enrollment has grown by nearly 12,700 students since fall 2006.

Killeen said the initiative will support the U of System’s ongoing efforts to expand opportunities for Illinois students and underrepresented minorities. Illinois students now comprise about 80 percent of the System’s on-campus, undergraduate enrollment, and African-American and Latino students comprise nearly 25 percent of on-campus, undergraduate enrollment.

The plan grew from a strategic enrollment committee created by Killeen in 2015, and is rooted in the high-aspiration goals of a new Strategic Framework that seeks to build on the U of I System’s service to students, the state and nation, and the public good. Each university developed its own growth plan, seeking to take advantage of distinctive strengths and opportunities while also ensuring adequate resources to ensure academic excellence, such as faculty, staff and facilities.

In Urbana-Champaign, enrollment is projected to increase by 6,304 students over the next five years, from 46,951 to 53,255. The university’s freshman class already ranks among the nation’s largest, so enrollment gains target graduate and professional programs, with an emphasis on online programs such as a new iMBA program that shows strong potential for growth.

Plans also include new programs that center on Urbana-Champaign’s academic strengths, including a new master’s degree in computer science in data science, a new online master’s degree in accountancy, a master of science in library and information science, expanding a master of science in information management, and a new medical degree that would come with the planned 2018 opening of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

In Chicago, enrollment is projected to increase by 4,785 students over the next five years, from 29,120 to 33,905, with more than 90 percent of growth projected in undergraduate programs. Recruiting efforts will be ramped up to increase enrollment to capacity in existing undergraduate programs, as well as at the graduate and professional levels.

Chicago also would expand 18 undergraduate programs and create five new ones, most centered on its strengths as a leader in health-care education. New undergraduate programs will include integrated health studies, nutrition and wellness, integrated health sciences, and disability and human development, as well as a new program in data science.

In Springfield, enrollment is projected to increase by 1,058 students by the fall of 2021, from 5,428 to 6,486. The university recently added five new bachelor’s degree programs – in biochemistry, exercise science, public administration, public policy and theatre – and one master’s degree program in data analytics, along with a pre-nursing curriculum and graduate certificate programs in educational technology and higher education online pedagogy.

Springfield also plans to capitalize on its place as a national leader in online education by expanding online offerings, and will ramp up student recruiting efforts with an emphasis on downstate Illinois and the Metro East region.

Killeen said increasing enrollment will provide life-changing opportunities for students. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports that median weekly earnings for workers with bachelor’s degrees were $1,137 in 2015, compared with $678 for high school graduates. Unemployment rates for college graduates stood at 2.8 percent, compared with 5.4 percent for workers with high school diplomas.

He also said expanding opportunities in the U of I System will help curb a growing migration of Illinois students to out-of-state colleges. In 2015, 45 percent of Illinois high school graduates who enrolled at four-year colleges and universities were enrolled out of state, up from 29 percent in 2002. The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) estimates that eliminating this net loss of approximately 16,000 students would result in more than $215 million in additional tuition and fees revenue to Illinois public universities. And IBHE reports that when students attend college in a different state, they are less likely to return and build their families and careers here.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 81,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.

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