Record breaking number of international students at University

By Edwin Hsieh

The U.S. has more international students than any other country in the world. According to Pew Research Center, during the 2012-13 academic year, approximately 819,644 international students enrolled at U.S. universities. The growing number of international students can be seen across the nation and here at the University where, this year, a record-breaking number of 9,871 international students enrolled. 

The number of international students at the University has steadily increased from 8,648 students in 2012, to 9,407 in 2013 and to 9,871 this year, according to the Division of Management Information. International students account for 22 percent of students — a 10 percent increase from a decade ago. 

Nearly 1 out of every 10 students in this year’s freshman class, about 650 students, are from China, which is the most out of any country represented by international students.

Chinese students account for 11.2 percent of the total student population and about 49 percent of the total international student population at the University. In one decade, the number of Chinese students has increased by nearly 578 percent.

Nicole Tami, director of international integration, said that the opportunity has opened up in terms of geography and political situations in both the U.S. and China, as China’s recent years of economic growth has enabled more families to send their children abroad. She also said that universities are not getting as much support from state funding as they used to, so they have found other ways to increase revenue.

“Many universities are realizing that they have to generate revenue through tuition because many states are no longer supporting the public institution at the level that they were 15 to 20 years ago,” Tami said. 

The state funding model continues to change, and Illinois is one state that has had to shift funding allocations for public schooling and universities.

“The aversion of citizens to paying taxes has changed the funding model from one of the state paying to educate its citizens, to the citizens paying to go to school,” said Daniel Bendhardt, professor in the College of Business.

According to the University’s budget book, direct state tax support for overall University operations has declined from over $1,360.3 million in 2002 to $621.7 million in 2014. The decline in state funding has led to a sharp increase in tuition for students to around $12,000 per year, while international students pay $27,476 per year, according to the Office of the Registrar

South Korea has the second largest international population on campus with a total of 1,268 students. However, the number of students from South Korea has declined 19 percent in the past four years while the number of international student from India has increased. The number of students from India has increased 37.5 percent from 2010, which the University does not accredit to active recruiting, Tami said.

“Because of University of Illinois’s reputation, and because of a long history of successful Chinese scholars, we built a reputation that makes Chinese students want to come to U of I,” Tami said.

Justin Lu, sophomore in FAA, is an international student from China. He traveled to the U.S. to pursue his college education due to the opportunities he will be presented with after he graduates.

”I came to United States, because I wanted to major in industrial design. A degree in industrial design from a Chinese university doesn’t hold a great future, whereas in the U.S., there is better chance that I will be able to learn and do more,” Lu said.

Robin Kaler, campus spokeswoman, said she does not expect the number of international students at the University to increase beyond its current number.

“Going forward, it’s more likely that the number of international students on campus will decrease slightly,” Kaler said.

Edwin can be reached at [email protected]