State, UI discuss foreign enrollment

By Stephanie Benhart

After the recent announcement from the Institute of International Education of the University’s No. 1 rank among public schools for international student enrollment, the idea of creating a cap on the number of admitted international students came to the attention of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee.

State Sen. Ed Maloney, D-Chicago, and chairman of the Higher Education Committee, suggested the idea which was then brought to the attention of the Illinois General Assembly.

“Diversity on campus is great, it adds to the college experience,” Maloney said. “But, at what point do you sit down and discuss it?” People who are serious about education know diversity is an important aspect, Maloney said. However, he said this needs to be balanced with the people who support the University.

Keith Marshall, associate provost for enrollment management at the University, said it would be difficult to determine how much international diversity is too much.

The majority of international students are graduates and next year’s freshman class was estimated roughly at 7,000 total students, 400 of which will be international, Marshall said. However, he did not speculate as to the increase in graduate students for the coming year.

Although the University still has a high percentage of in-state students compared to other Big Ten and state universities, Marshall said a cap might help better the image of the University for only some in-state students. He said he believes most value the diversity international students bring to campus; however, a cap would not help the University’s image abroad.

“(People abroad may think) Illinois is not friendly to international students and is not embracing globalization,” he said.

Maloney said the University is doing a good job, and he would not suggest reducing the number of international students.

“I just don’t want to see it get skewed either way,” he said.

Because the University is seen as the flagship school of the state, Maloney said many residents believe they can only obtain a quality education on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Those who are denied admission may believe they cannot receive the same quality of education elsewhere in the state. He said he believes the Illinois needs to promote other quality institutions in the state.

Martin McFarlane, acting associate director for International Student and Scholar Services, said he thought a cap would cause a snowballing effect, with fewer faculty, staff and researchers coming to the University along with fewer international students.

“There is no need for a cap,” he said. “It wouldn’t last.”

Terence Yeo, freshman in Business and an international student from Singapore, said he did not agree with the idea of a cap and thought it was unnecessary.

“The large international student population is something the U of I boasts of. It would be a tragedy to ruin (its) international image with a cap,” he said.

Kim Cholewa, sophomore in AHS from Gurnee, Ill., said she feels the University may sometimes favor international students. If two applicants, one international and one in-state, have the same credentials, the University may choose the international student to promote diversity, she said.

However, she said there should not be a cap if the international students have the grades to attend.

“As long as they’re qualified to be here, it’s fine,” she said.