* More than 600 Chinese kids are enrolling at UIUC this fall…
They will represent nearly 10 percent of the entering freshman class at the state’s most competitive public university, up from fewer than 20 freshmen in 2006. And they are so important to the university’s present and future that a U. of I. team flew halfway around the world this summer to conduct three orientation sessions in their country.
While the students and their families are betting their futures on a U. of I. education, the university depends on the full tuition they pay — a minimum of $31,000 a year, in some cases totaling twice that of an Illinois resident, plus housing and other costs.
U. of I. has more international students than any other American public university, and it trails only the University of Southern California, a private institution. All told, including graduate students who qualify for some aid, about 9,400 international students funneled $166 million into the Urbana-Champaign campus budget last year in tuition alone, triple the amount from just five years ago.
When fees and housing are factored in, international students contributed $211 million to the campus budget, accounting for 25 percent of the amount paid by all students. Nearly half that sum came from China, university figures show.
It’s pretty clear that UIUC is using these kids to plug their budget holes. And what’s happening is those students are getting degrees, going home and then competing with us.
Spreading the American Way is a good thing. It makes this country stand head and shoulders above the rest of the world. And if that helps push real reform in China, then I’m for it. But, as the UIUC numbers show, the American Way these days has become too much about grabbing every dollar you can, almost regardless of the consequences.
* And, yes, I’m wincing at my own borderline reactionary xenophobia here. So, it’s important to also point out this…
Meanwhile, the number of students from Illinois is down, to 5,358 freshmen last fall, but that is more a function of students passing on Illinois than the university rejecting them. U. of I. has admitted a consistent number of in-state applicants over the past five years, but a higher percentage of them are enrolling elsewhere.
I’d really like to know why this is happening. Is it the high tuition? Is it the lack of quality education? Is it the condition of the campus? Is it just that kids are tired of living in Illinois? What?