A record 53,800 students applied to the University of Wisconsin this year, despite an international drop in applications.

According to the Cap Times, this marks a 17% increase from last year’s 45,941 applications. The increases included in-state, domestic and international students, with a significant rise in Wisconsin residents.

UW Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone said in an email statement COVID-19 has increased the number of local applicants.

“The pandemic has caused many students and families locally and nationally to have new or different priorities as they are considering where they want to attend college,” McGlone said.

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According to NPR, total international enrollment plummeted 16% between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020, and enrollment of international students saw a 43% drop for colleges across the country.

McGlone said UW’s decision to drop the requirement for standardized testing was another factor in the university’s increase.

According to UW News, UW did not require standardized test scores to be submitted because the tests were not universally available or easily accessible during the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, 1,070 schools were test-optional and now there are 1,686, according to UW News.

McGlone said the announcement the UW System plans to hold at least 75% of classes in-person in the fall did not impact the number of applications UW received because the announcement came after the Feb. 1 application deadline.

Due to the influx of applications, McGlone said UW has added staff to manage the increased workload and is still committed to a full holistic review of every application.

According to the Cap Times, UW also admitted their most diverse freshman class in history last year.

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McGlone said UW’s legacy worldwide is key to the 17% application increase.

“Our brand, the history of the university around the globe, [and] the quality of instruction, all matter greatly to the college-going communities around the country and world,” McGlone said.