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Enrollments in online courses continue to increase each semester

Sharita Forrest, News Editor
(217) 244-1072;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Enrollments in online courses and degree programs at Illinois colleges and universities continue to increase significantly each semester as does the number of courses available by means of the Internet, according to Illinois Virtual Campus (IVC), a clearinghouse on distance-learning programs offered by the state's institutions of higher education.

University of Illinois Online, the Internet-based education and public service initiative of the three campuses of the University of Illinois, reported more than 12,000 enrollments in its online courses for the 2001-2002 academic year.

U of I Online, which began in January 1997, offers 32 online certificate and degree programs and 413 online courses.

U of I Online manages IVC on behalf of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. IVC, based in Champaign, Ill., is a resource for educators, students and industry on distance-learning opportunities provided by 66 two-year and four-year institutions of higher education in Illinois. IVC currently lists 93 certificate and degree programs and more than 2,400 online courses in its catalog, available online at

Illinois colleges and universities reported 34,549 student enrollments in Internet-based classes during the winter/spring 2002 term – an increase of 75 percent over the spring 2001 term, when 19,764 students were enrolled in online courses.

The number of courses offered online also increased 67 percent during that same period, jumping from 1,753 courses during the winter/spring term 2001 to 2,932 courses during the winter/spring 2002 term.

Community colleges led Illinois institutions in the numbers of online course offerings and enrollments, reporting 18,515 enrollments in 1,781 Internet courses during the spring 2002 semester. Public universities reported 8,087 enrollments in the 424 online courses they offered while independent colleges and universities reported 7,947 student enrollments in 727 online courses offered.

Eighty-five percent of online enrollees were Illinois residents while residents of other states accounted for 13 percent of online students. Residents of other countries composed just 2 percent of enrollments in online courses offered by Illinois colleges and universities.

"Students report that they are taking online courses and full degree programs because the online environment supports their needs as working professionals and parents," said Cathy Gunn, IVC director. "The 'anytime, anyplace' feature of online learning truly is the attraction."

The typical online student at Illinois colleges and universities is believed to be a female, older than traditional college age with a full-time job and a family, in accordance with a recently released study from the U.S. Department of Education, Gunn said.

The College of DuPage led the Illinois community college sector in the number of online course enrollments with 1,994 enrollees during spring 2002. University of Illinois at Chicago topped the public university sector with 3,108 online enrollments, and DeVry University led independent colleges and universities with 2,761 online enrollments.

During fall 1999, when IVC began collecting data on Internet courses and enrollments, Illinois colleges and universities reported 5,887 enrollments in 515 online courses. The phenomenal growth in online courses and degree programs is attributed to student demand as well as to extensive support by the IBHE and increased funding for Internet programs from federal and private sources.