The way to plug the “brain drain” in Illinois is by inducing more area residents to attend an in-state college or university, Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman told local business leaders on Friday.
“Ten thousand people per month are leaving Illinois to work in other states, and there’s a net deficit of 16,000 new high school graduates attending college outside Illinois,” Glassman said. “Many of those students will not return to Illinois.”
Glassman spoke at the monthly First Friday luncheon sponsored by the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.
Glassman said that by any unit of measurement, Illinois’ public universities are among the best in the nation.
“Yet we have people in Illinois leaving the state to attend other institutions,” he said. “This is a problem we have to deal with.”
While many of those students may intend to come back to the area after completing their higher education, Glassman said new graduates often stay in the area in which they pursued their higher education.
“If they decide to move to Iowa, Missouri or Tennessee, they will likely try to find jobs in those areas,” he said.
Glassman said his university remains financially sound despite the state budget impasse.
He doesn’t understand why Eastern is so often overlooked by people in its natural service area, which includes Effingham.
“EIU is an incredible university that does not get the credit it deserves,” he said. “EIU continues to be operated effectively through the budget impasse.”
Glassman added that any cuts made have been to operational costs, not academic programs.
Using a tuition that is third lowest among state universities, EIU is more aggressively recruiting students from its natural service area to offset the number of people leaving the state for higher education.
“We can no longer take this area for granted,” he said. “We’re telling students that we want them.”
Glassman said the four points recruiters make is that EIU is academically excellent and affordable, with a safe, nurturing campus, and boasts excellent career placement at graduation. He added that the student-faculty ratio of 14 to 1 is unusually intimate for a public university, especially one that has among the lowest tuition costs in the state.
He noted that Charleston is ranked second to Winona, Minnesota, in terms of safety among college towns.
Finally, he said, EIU has a placement rate of 90 percent for recent graduates.
Glassman said Eastern has room to grow its enrollment.
“Our enrollment is about 7,500, but it should be 9,000,” he said.
Bill Grimes can be reached at email@example.com or 217-347-7151, x132.