Global Campus funding hoped to bolster UI revenue

By Katie O'Connell

A $3.4 million increase in funding for the Global Campus initiative approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees May 21 fell in line with administrative goals of increasing revenue through new programs and students – and new tuition sources.

Beyond revenue, the program was intended to increase accessibility to higher education for those who could not afford a traditional University experience.

Combined with the $3.9 million remaining in credit from the 2008 fiscal year, the program will have an operating budget of $5.95 million during the 2009 fiscal year.

Despite being $3.9 million under budget during the 2008 fiscal year, the program fell $500,000 short of projected tuition revenue, which some feel places a financial burden on currently enrolled campus students.

“It’s a big drain on University resources all around,” said Paul Schmitt, student trustee-elect to the Board of Trustees.

Schmitt will occupy the position starting on July 1.

The delayed launch of the program made meeting enrollment goals difficult and also caused the revenue shortage. A presentation given to trustees by the Global Campus Office during the May meeting called the enrollment goals for fiscal year 2008 “unrealistic.”

Chet Gardner, special assistant to University of Illinois President B. Joseph White on Global Campus, said it was expected that the initiative would not generate revenue for three to four years. Since funding for the initiative is provided through a line of credit with the university system, Gardner said the credit will begin to be paid off during the 2011 fiscal year and payments will be made for 10 years.

“It’s kind of like buying a car or buying a house,” Gardner said.

In an attempt to increase enrollment, Gardner said 30 percent of Global Campus funding will be used to market the program.

Marketing will be broken down into three categories: general brand advertising, consumer marketing and organizational outreach. According to the presentation, general brand advertising will attempt to build the “Global Campus Brand” though means such as radio, newspaper and magazine advertisements, while consumer advertising will be easily tracked and monitored online advertising.

The third type of advertising, organizational advertising, hopes to build relationships with hospitals, community colleges, the University of Illinois Alumni Association and other organizations directly linked to areas of study.

Schmitt approved of the varied advertising campaign, saying he believes it will generate more revenue and alleviate the “burden” he feels is currently placed on students enrolled at the three campuses.

“You’ve invested all this money and at this point you either change plans or find out what is impeding your success and try to surpass it,” Schmitt said.

There are about 250 applications for admission to the Global Campus program for Fall 2008, Gardner said. He added that this number could increase as applications for online programs can still be submitted just weeks before the beginning of a term, unlike applications for a traditional campus which are submitted months before.

Although he objects to the Global Campus program, Schmitt said that he believes its mission is “noble.”

“I think that what Global Campus aims to do is going to be quintessential to higher education,” Schmitt said.