Illinois' Presence Shrinks At U. Of I.

Ann McClure's picture

Six years ago, when University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign officials announced plans to enroll more undergraduates from outside the state, the public outcry was so intense that the plan was scrapped within a week.

But despite the university's pledge then to keep out-of-state enrollment to about 10 to 12 percent, there has been a rapid increase in students from other states and especially other countries. A full 25 percent of students in this fall's freshman class are nonresidents — a share expected to be the new normal for the state's flagship public university, officials told the Tribune.

Although the proposed change in 2006 was met with complaints and calls for legislative hearings, families now may be more willing to accept that the cash-strapped university, facing a decline in state funding, is relying on the significantly higher tuition paid by students from across the country and abroad.

The effect of that shift is clear on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Though today's undergraduate enrollment of 31,900 is 3,600 higher than a decade ago, there are 200 fewer students from Illinois. Meanwhile, the number of international students has soared. U. of I. enrolls 4,447 undergraduates from other countries — up from 649 in 2000.

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