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WIU officials working to address enrollment dip

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WIU campus in Macomb on Friday. WIU campus in Macomb on Friday.
Jirak said he doesn't plan on staying in Illinois. Jirak said he doesn't plan on staying in Illinois.
Williams said many students had already picked other schools by the time WIU got their state payments. Williams said many students had already picked other schools by the time WIU got their state payments.
Williams also said many people have left Illinois, which makes recruiting difficult. Williams also said many people have left Illinois, which makes recruiting difficult.
MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -

Just days after Western Illinois University revealed enrollment dropped 9 percent this semester, school officials said they're working to reverse the trend.

WIU's freshmen class this year totals 1,720 students. That's down roughly 300 students from last year.

Vice President For Student Services Ron Williams said one way to address the issue involves recruiting in states WIU isn't accustomed to. Traditionally they have focused on students in the west central Illinois region.

Williams said as more and more people leave the state of Illinois, it has a direct impact on the university.

"The population of the state is declining," Williams said. "And for Western Illinois University, most of our students have primarily been from within the state, so obviously if there are fewer students to recruit - then obviously that would impact enrollment."

Zach Jirak is a senior at WIU. He said in his time at the school, he's noticed fewer and fewer students on campus.

"Almost half of my freshmen class dropped out at the end of second semester." Jirak said. "So I don't know if its the school itself, or grades, or just them, but it could be anything."

Williams also said the drop in enrollment isn't surprising, especially given the effects of the state budget impasse.
"We attribute much of that decline to the crisis of confidence." Williams said. "This year, the funding for higher education came after July 1, and we believe by that time most students had already made the decision of where they were going to school."

Jirak said that lack of confidence didn't surprise him.

"Things are uncertain." Jirak said. "So I can imagine less people wanting to go to college, and go to school in Illinois."

Jirak also added that as an Iowa native, he has no desire to stay in the state of Illinois past his graduation day.

"No one wants to work where there's no money to made. So I'm not surprised that people are leaving the state." Jirak said. "I have no intentions to work here at all."

Williams also said the university is planning to waive application fees for students who visit the campus.

Below are the latest enrollment percentages at other Illinois universities:

  • University of Illinois: 3 percent increase
  • Eastern Illinois University: 5 percent decrease
  • Northern Illinois University: 5 percent decrease
  • Southern Illinois University - Carbondale: 9 percent decrease
  • Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville: 2.4 percent decrease

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