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NIU Enrollment Plan Focuses On Increasing Online And Graduate Students

Graphic from NIU's "Strategic Enrollment Plan"

Northern Illinois University recently released their “strategic enrollment plan” for the next five years. It outlines how the school hopes to rebound from enrollment declines.

Since 2010, enrollment at Illinois colleges and universities has steadily fallen. Last year, NIU saw about a five percent drop in enrollment, putting them in line with state trends.

So what are schools supposed to do to try and reverse that trend? At NIU, their strategic enrollment plan points to several options. The biggest of them? Online programs, especially at the graduate level.

Chris McCord is the acting executive vice president and provost.

“NIU has not embraced the online market as fully as we could," he said. "We’ve not had as many programs as some of our competitors, we’ve haven’t built those into our curriculum as fully as we might have.”

Credit Enrollment Projections via NIU "Strategic Enrollment Plan"

He says there are specific programs they want to expand online, like in business, healthcare and education -- especially at the graduate level.

“Our online populations and on-campus populations, it’s not that they don’t overlap, they do, but there are some fundamental differences about students who want be on the on-campus environment and people who want to have the flexibility of an online environment," said McCord.

Graduate degree programs were one of the few areas that saw a small bump in enrollment at NIU last year.

The university's plan projects their overall enrollment to steady by 2022.