Enrollment up, and steady, across the UW System

Combined enrollment is up across the entire University of Wisconsin System this fall, although enrollment at two of three UW campuses in southeastern Wisconsin saw modest declines.

Preliminary headcount figures show an enrollment of 161,322 across all system campuses for Fall 2023, an increase of 540 over Fall 2022, according to a press release issued by the UW-System this week. The growth marks the first time since 2014, that UW System, as whole, saw a year-over-year increase in students.

The estimates are based on first-day registration figures and projections of other new students.

For new freshman students, the estimates indicate an increase of 592 students in Fall 2023 at UW System universities, over Fall 2022. That figure does not include UW-Madison, which deliberately sought to reduce the number of incoming first-year students after last year’s incoming class was slightly larger than anticipated, the release states.

Excluding UW-Madison, new freshman enrollment increased by 3 percent overall.

“Wisconsin is in a war for talent and our universities play a key role to help build the vibrant future we all want here,” said UW System President Jay Rothman. “Today’s enrollment announcement shows a continuing rebound of new freshman students making college plans for their future. This is a great sign for all of Wisconsin because freshman enrollment is a leading indicator of future enrollment.”

Five universities showed overall increases – UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Whitewater – based on the preliminary data.

Growth at Whitewater

Whitewater, in particular, is projecting an enrollment of 11,462 students across both its main and Rock County campuses for the Fall 2023 semester – a 3.4% increase when compared to the Fall 2022 semester, when the schools had a combined enrollment of 11,087 students. That is the highest project enrollment increase for all of the UW System’s four-year campuses. UW-Platteville’s enrollment is up by 3.3 percent this year. UW-Stevens Point is up 3.1 percent.

The Whitewater campus is expected to reach 10,764 students, up 2.6 percent from last year. At the Rock County campus in Janesville, enrollment is projected to be 698, up 105 students, a 17.7% increase. This marks the first year-to-year rise in total enrollment at the Whitewater campus since fall 2016, and the first increase at the Rock County campus since fall 2018.

“More students are transferring to UW-Whitewater from other colleges and universities, and the number of students who are the first in their family to pursue higher education is also increasing,” said John Chenoweth, UW-Whitewater’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs about the school’s growth.  “Our School of Graduate Studies is at 1,710 students, which would be the second largest total in our history.’”

This year’s freshmen class at the university – 1,975 students – is also the largest in six years, Chenoweth noted.

Dips at UW-Milwaukee, Parkside

UW System schools seeing modest enrollment declines this year include UW-Milwaukee and UW-Parkside.

UW-Milwaukee saw its Fall 2023 enrollment decline by about 285 students or 1.2% as compared to last year, when its first-day registration figures and projections of other new students was 22,866. Initial first-day registration figures put the school’s Fall 2023 enrollment at 22,581, although that number could increase or decrease.

UW-Parkside saw a slightly smaller enrollment dip of 0.9%, with early estimates putting its Fall 2023 enrollment at 3,930, a dip of 36 students when compared with Fall 2022 enrollment figures.

Final enrollment figures based on the 10th day of classes – the standard measure of enrollment and the figure that will be officially reported to the U.S. Department of Education — will differ slightly from the preliminary estimates based on the first day of classes. Some students enroll or discontinue studies after the first day of classes.

Source: Enrollment up, and steady, across the UW System

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