UI student body becoming more international

UI student body becoming more international

URBANA — When Chancellor Phyllis Wise welcomed new students to campus last week, she described the group as the most diverse class ever at the University of Illinois.

"You are the global generation," she said to the thousands assembled in the Assembly Hall for new student convocation on Friday.

Preliminary figures released by the university on Monday, the first day of classes, reflect the continuing trend on campus of a growing international student body, one with thousands of students from across the globe.

Nearly 20 percent of all UI students hail from outside the United States, according to the university's statistical abstract of first-day enrollment. That's up from almost 13 percent just five years ago.

Official numbers, including more detailed demographics on the classes, will not be released until mid-September. Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler declined comment until the final numbers are released.

The preliminary numbers show an increasingly global student body, with students coming from more than 100 countries. As has been the trend in recent years, China sends the most students to campus. This year there are 3,739 students from China studying at the UI, including 2,137 undergraduates and 1,594 graduate students. China is followed by South Korea with a total of 1,317 students and India with 878. Other countries represented included Taiwan with 361, Iran with 113, Canada with 109 and Singapore with 103. The breadth of other countries represented at the UI range from Angola and Burkina Faso to Syria to Uzbekistan.

After Illinois (there are about 28,000 Illinois residents studying at the UI), the state with the most residents enrolled at the Urbana campus is California with 566, followed by New Jersey with 260 and New York with 246. Of the Midwest states, there are 229 students from Missouri, 186 from Michigan, 153 from Wisconsin, 146 from Indiana and 66 from Iowa.

Other preliminary findings from the report:

— According to the preliminary numbers, there are a total of 31,784 undergraduates, 9,176 graduate students and 1,101 students enrolled in professional programs on the Urbana campus.

— The Illinois county sending the most students to the U of I was Cook with 10,422 students followed by DuPage with 2,584, Lake County with 2,728, Champaign with 2,450 and Kane County with 849. Vermilion County sends 130 students to the UI.

— Men continue to outnumber women on campus. They make up nearly 55 percent, while woman comprise about 45 percent of the student body, according to the data.

— African-American students studying at the UI number 2,126 and Asians number 5,213. There are 2,798 Hispanics, 856 multiracial students and 110 Native American/Alaskan Native/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. White students total 22,333.

Enrollment is up on all three of the UI's campuses, according to the university. More in-state, out-of-state and international students applied for seats in the Urbana campus' freshman class. A record 31,454 students applied for the approximately 6,900 slots.


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just_wondering wrote on August 28, 2012 at 8:08 am

So N-G, now ask the UI the next logical question - why is international enrollment up, and why at a state university? Do some investigative reporting, and don't just publish the UI's stats for them. Admissions policy determines these numbers - this is not random, it is by design. The funding from the State of Illinois has been flat/down for many years, so is international enrollment up because it brings in more money? 

EL YATIRI wrote on August 28, 2012 at 9:08 am
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Of course it's all about money.  That's why ex-president Hogan and the Board of Trustees fought so hard to change enrollment process and centralize it in administration rather than letting the different departments do it.  They were so keen on changing enrollment so that there would be more room for hard cash paying internationals than Illinoisans who pay less.

Hogan is gone, but the Board of Trustees hasn't changed and will bid it's time for another opportunity to shaft Illinois students all so that they can get more money.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 28, 2012 at 9:08 am
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Yes. Money.


I'd like to welcome all the international students, and thank them for keeping our taxes lower.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

It would make our taxes even lower if the university was allowed to become a private university.  The state funding has been decreasing.  Why not discontinue the decreasing state funding; and allow the university to continue on it's path of independence?  It would save on pensions, maintenance, and buildings.  Donate the campus to the university so it can become a private university.  It would be a win-win for all. 

pattsi wrote on August 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Did everyone feel the earthquake as Justin Smith Morrill rolled over in his grave?

just_wondering wrote on August 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm


"This bill proposes to establish at least one college in every State upon a sure and perpetual foundation, accessible to all, but especially to the sons of toil, where all of needful science for the practical avocations of life shall be taught, where neither the higher graces of classical studies nor that military drill our country now so greatly appreciates will be entirely ignored, and where agriculture, the foundation of all present and future prosperity, may look for troops of earnest friends, studying its familiar and recondite economies, and at last elevating it to that higher level where it may fearlessly invoke comparison with the most advanced standards of the world."
—1862, as quoted by William Belmont Parker, The Life and Public Services of Justin Smith Morrill
Sid Saltfork wrote on August 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm

When a state no longer can fund a state university to the degree that the university has become accustomed to receiving, the university must raise tuition costs.  When the tuition cost for international, and out-of-state students is twice as much as the tuition cost for in-state students, the state university accepts non-state students over in-state students.  When the tuition cost becomes prohibitive for the citizens of the state to send their sons, and daughters to the state university; the citizens of the state should not be taxed for the operation of the state university.  The high cost of administrators both past, and present along with the other assorted costs of the university have contributed to the high cost of tuition.  Either the choice of austerity, or privatization must be faced.  If one out of five is the ratio of non-state students now; what will it be next year, and the following year?  One thing for sure; the tuition cost will not decrease.

DeafeningSilence wrote on April 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm

U of I student checking in with my two cents. Of course, increased tuition is one of the main reasons for this shift to more out-of-state and international students. I don't think that's a secret. But let's not ignore the impact this shift has had on the quality of students here at the university, and the reputation of our university's degrees.

While I'm not a fan of "diversity" politics on campus, I see the push for domestic diversity and international diversity as different issues. The push for admitting more minority students has been met with criticism, mainly due to claims that lower-qualified minorities were taking the spots of more qualified white students, which can often be the case. However, this concern is irrelevant on the issue of international students, who tend to be better qualified than their American counterparts. Illinois residents benefit from attending a college with a highly-qualified, diverse (culturally, linguistically, etc.) student population.

Young Illinoisans are no longer competing against only each other for jobs. They are graduating into an increasingly globalized marketplace, and employers are more than happy to hire international workers who are equally or better qualified. Companies want employees with capabilities and experience working with people from all around the world. And I know from first-hand experience that employers like the U of I so much partly because they know we are challenged more and learn more in an environment with intelligent students from other countries. Believe it or not, plenty of students born and raised in Illinois want to move to more diverse markets, either domestic or abroad. Graduating from the most diverse public university in the country better prepares them for employment opportunities, no matter where they may be in the world. 

The shifts in the recruiting of international students and staff is an important part in keeping the U of I in the ranks of the world's elite universities. It's not something we should frown upon. We should embrace it and be proud of it.