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University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson unveiled enrollment figures from the first day of the fall semester that suggest a vast majority of students have responded positively to the return of on-campus instruction. The figures suggest a modest decline of roughly 1 percent in enrollment across the UW System compared to 2019, while UW-Parkside, with a preliminary total of 4,547 students enrolled, experienced a 3.8% increase over fall 2019.

As part of UW-Parkside’s “Ranger Restart” plan, classes will be conducted in-person, online, or a combination of the two formats. Face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces, including classrooms, and are strongly encouraged outside when physical distancing is not possible. Sixty-one percent of classes are fully online (57% of undergraduate classes; 89% of graduate classes), though 2,542 students have at least one in-person or hybrid (mixed in-person and online) class. Of the 4,547 total students, 654 are enrolled in graduate programs, an impressive 44% increase over fall 2019 enrollment data. Three-hundred and ninety-three of those students are in the Online MBA program.

“UW-Parkside’s enrollment growth is coming from enrollment gains in innovative, market-responsive, new master’s and online programs and from improvements in graduation rates,” said Rob Ducoffe, Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic & Student Affairs at UW-Parkside.

A total of nearly 126,000 students enrolled at the 10 universities that began on-campus instruction Sept. 2. The numbers are preliminary and unofficial. Including estimates for the other three universities and expected registration additions across all universities after the first day of classes, UW System is estimating 165,897 students for fall 2020.

The UW System does not typically release enrollment figures from the first day of instruction but is doing so because of widespread interest in campus activities during the fall 2020 semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic. First-day enrollment makes up about 95 percent of the enrollment in a given semester, with another five percent enrolling after the first day. These first-day 2020 enrollment figures should not be compared to final enrollment figures from 2019.


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In addition to our education features, we’ll be kicking off a series of stories highlighting how parents, students, and educators are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 on education. If this is important to you, please consider donating to our education reporting fund. https://business.facebook.com/donate/1846323118855149/3262802717172659/