WIU focuses on stabilizing enrollment - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

WIU focuses on stabilizing enrollment

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Jack Thomas addressing faculty, staff and community members during a press conference Jack Thomas addressing faculty, staff and community members during a press conference
Students on the campus of WIU in Macomb Students on the campus of WIU in Macomb
Campus of Western Illinois University Campus of Western Illinois University
WIU grad student Amanda Pankhurst working on her computer WIU grad student Amanda Pankhurst working on her computer
Western Illinois University Western Illinois University
MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -

Western Illinois University is fighting to keep students on campus and increase student enrollment. WIU's president announced several new initiatives Tuesday.

President Jack Thomas wants to lower the cost to students. His goal is to provide more ways for students to earn money while earning their degrees.

Statistics show the cost to attend a public university in Illinois has nearly doubled in 10 years. But, WIU student Amanda Pankhurst is able to cut down on costs through work study.

"Having a work-study was a nice supplement to pay for the little excess things like textbooks and things that weren't covered," Pankhurst said.

Now as a graduate student at WIU, the experience in work-study is paying off.

"I did an internship in university relations and I gained a lot of experience with that, and that turned into a graduate assistantship which pays for my masters degree," Pankhurst added.

Having more opportunities for students to earn money and get their degrees was one of President Jack Thomas's main point for his executive institute.

"That gives students some skills, specific kinds of skills while working on campus as well as the internships," Thomas said. "It also helps them be more marketable once they graduate."

Thomas also put a focus on online classes saying they're cheaper for students and provides more flexibility.

"It's to reach a different type of student," Thomas said. "Those non-traditional kinds of students that are already in the workforce, already in their careers, those are the individuals we are trying to reach, like those in the military."

Pankhurst is taking all online classes this semester, which is making her life easier.

"I wanted to get a lot of work experience in before graduating and I think having an online degree was more convenient for my schedule," Pankhurst said.

Thomas said he will head to Springfield on Thursday for the first budget testimony of the year. He said they'll be advocating for more consistent state funding.
 

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