Admissions office sees India as opportunity for growth


Wenyuan Chen | The Daily Illini

U of I students celebrate the annual Holi festival at the Florida and Lincoln Playing Field on Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2016.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

As high school seniors submit early deadline applications on November 1st, the admissions office hopes to see its recruitment efforts pay off.

This year, the office has turned its attention away from China and toward India, seeing it as a prime opportunity to diversify its international student population, according to Andrew Borst, director of undergraduate admissions.

China has eclipsed other countries’ student enrollment at the University in the past five years, but the University wants to draw students from other places and protect itself from depending on only one country.

“In an ideal sense, if we’re looking for diversity, we would send a recruiter to every continent short of Antarctica,” Borst said. “But I would say with our limited international recruitment budget, it’s the best bang for our buck for travel.”

The University identified India as an opportunity for growth since other Big Ten schools have already successfully attracted students from there. Currently, there are 5,680 students from China enrolled this semester, while there are only 1,299 from India.

This summer, Amber Longtin, director for international admissions, visited high schools in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore and offices of Education USA, U.S. State Department international advising centers. She said the students were excited to see a representative from Illinois, a university they “were all pretty aware of.”

“We were already on their short list for a lot of cases, and it was really nice to be able to talk about other programs we have on campus, too,” Longtin said. “Because a lot of times people know about our really good engineering programs, but they don’t know as much about our really strong psychology program, or the programs we have in ACES, and it was a really good chance to share all of those with them.”

The admissions office wants to continue the trip every year. Ideally, it would make the trip every semester, but Borst acknowledged the need to be conscious of the budget, which he said is about $15,000 for international recruiting.

Domestically, the University sees California, Texas and Georgia as opportunities to increase applicants. This year, there are 276 freshmen from California, or 3.6 percent, 40 from Texas, or 0.5 percent and 29 from Georgia, or 0.4 percent.

Attracting Illinois students remains Borst’s priority, but the state’s population is declining and the market has become increasingly competitive.

He said the number of regional college offices in the Chicago area has tripled in the past 10 years, and students applying to Illinois apply to between eight and 12 schools on average.

Decreased population, increased competition and decreased or uncertain state support leaves the University to face what Borst called a “triple whammy.”

“That’s lots of reasons for students to look elsewhere, so we’re trying to give them a sense of security that this is a good place to be with our main focusing being Illinois residents,” he said. “And then we’re supplementing on top of those Illinois residents with non-resident and international students.”

The first round of applications are due November 1st, with notification Dec. 16, as the University returned to its early action deadline and regular deadline approach after two years with a single application deadline. The second round is due Dec. 1 with notification Feb. 3.

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