CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The 2012-13 freshman class is smaller than last year's and its students are ranked higher academically, according to fall enrollment statistics released this week by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As of Sept. 11, the 10th day of classes, 6,932 freshmen were enrolled, a decline of more than 300 from last year. The 10-day figures traditionally are used as the benchmark for enrollment data.
That drop is by design, school officials said.
"This year we intentionally worked toward a smaller freshman class so we can offer smaller class sizes," said Urbana Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise. "Doing so allows more student-teacher interaction and a more responsive learning environment."
The number of U. of I. freshmen ranked in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes rose by 2 percentage points to nearly 54 percent. Average ACT and SAT scores also were up slightly.
"Their academic credentials are impressive and they've already demonstrated their potential," she said.
The percentage of students from the state of Illinois is 76 percent, down 1 percentage point from last year.
In addition, the underrepresented minority student rate increased to 15 percent, up 2 percentage points, and the rate of first-generation students rose by 1 percentage point to nearly 20.
The freshman class saw fewer international students this year, supplanted by a rise in the number of out-of-state students, making the overall number of non-resident students rise.
The Urbana campus this year also set a record for freshman applications with more than 31,000.
The top three enrollment centers for this year's freshman class included liberal arts and sciences (1,905), general studies (1,652) and engineering (1,506). Officials said the greatest growth among student applicants has been in engineering and related fields.
"The percentage of non-Illinois students is growing and that's important because we want to be at the center of preparing students to lead a global society," Wise said. "The numbers are pretty exciting and show that, despite the challenges we've faced, we have a very diverse campus and some of the top students in the country clamor to come here to study."