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Graduate student enrollment rises again at SIUE

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville experienced its fourth consecutive spring semester of graduate student enrollment growth by increasing 13 percent (280 students) over spring 2020.

Graduate enrollment has grown 38 percent (666 students) since spring 2017. The SIUE Graduate School, which houses interdisciplinary graduate programs, grew enrollment by 21 percent in spring 2021 as graduate and doctoral enrollment reached 2,920 students, which accounts for 24 percent of SIUE’s total spring enrollment of 12,116.

With a 4.3 percent enrollment increase, the School of Nursing grew to a spring record 1,643 students. Meanwhile, overall spring enrollment since 2020 grew for the Schools of Business (+7.7 percent), Education, Health and Human Behavior (+6.7 percent), and Dental Medicine (+2.8 percent).

As the university adjusts to a learning environment reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, 44 percent of all enrolled spring term students still have at least one scheduled weekly on-ground class, laboratory or studio experience. A record 6,733 students, or 56 percent of the 12,116 enrolled for the term, will engage with SIUE completely online.

“Our delivery of instruction has evolved to reflect the quality interactions that we expect, albeit in new modalities. In particular, we have been able to intentionally grow high quality, online graduate and degree completion programs during the past year,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Denise Cobb, PhD. “We are earnestly working to preserve the best of what our community expects of an SIUE education, while addressing the needs of new learners in our complex environment.

“Although we are working to return as many courses as safely possible to on-ground and blended formats for fall 2021, it is safe to say that we are learning from the changes we have made and will continue to evolve in our offerings. Strong online courses and learning opportunities will always be available for students moving forward. We have realized many positive aspects to delivering online and blended instruction.”

Eighty-five percent of fall freshmen returned for spring 2021, including 86 percent of first-time freshmen who elected to live in University Housing during the fall semester. Most notable among these early retention statistics is the 2 percent increase in first semester retention for Black male students who are members of the fall 2020 cohort.

“While the context is challenging for student retention, we recognize the importance of retaining students and supporting their ongoing success,” Cobb said.

“The students, faculty and staff should all be commended for the level of freshman engagement achieved during a unique fall semester,” said Director of Retention and Student Success Geoff Edwards, EdD. “It is extraordinary to have so many students remain connected to the University and on track for degree completion.”

Seven hundred and eighty-four new students joined the SIUE community for the first time this semester, which is up slightly from spring 2020. An additional 164 former students were readmitted to the University to continue their academic careers. Another 90 students joined the campus as visiting students. More than 900 students, who were not with SIUE in fall 2020, enrolled for the spring term.

“We are working continuously to enroll and re-enroll students. We never stop,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Scott Belobrajdic, EdD. “Two of our larger programs enroll new students every eight weeks. Nearly every program can be started spring, summer or fall. We pride ourselves on being accessible any term, especially during this unique era in higher education.”

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