ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK
The University of Illinois (U of I) is asking state leaders for funding for operations as it continues to court international students, potentially neglecting local in-state students and taxpayers, a think tank said.
Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, said U of I has been following a trend of public colleges and universities courting international students because of the revenue generated from them.
Illinois has been ranked fifth in the nation for international student enrollment, which could mean a reduction in available spots for prospective in-state taxpaying students.
“One of the downsides is that that leaves fewer seats for people in the state, all of whom pay taxes to support the school,” McCluskey said. “And so, it seems unfair to people in the state that they may be paying for the University of Illinois, but they can’t, perhaps, access the school because a foreign student is in those seats.”
In the proposal, $662 million would be given to U of I for fiscal year 2018 with increases each year at the rate of inflation.
Some hope for in-state students may be found in that, if the agreement goes through, U of I will agree to not raise tuition beyond the rate of inflation and will earmark some of the funding for student aid. The proposal also would require that at least 14,000 Illinois in-state students are admitted at the university’s Urbana-Champaign campus.
However, these terms may be deceptive, McCluskey said.
“Well, it might help in-state students who can get into the university, but you also have to be very careful because a lot of universities will pledge to keep tuition down, and then they will do things like raise fees or raise housing or room-and-board prices,” he said. “It’s important to look at what the full charge is for an average student.”
Taxpayers and students are left with very little recourse in this situation, McCluskey said.
“Taxpayers, unfortunately, when you talk about a public college or university, they have limited influence… they don’t have direct leverage over a public college university,” he said. “There is no surefire thing that taxpayers can do to make sure that they can access every seat at the University of Illinois and to do it at a price that they would like to pay.”