Cap on foreign students not a good idea

Global campus is finally a success!

No, not that one.

The Sun-Times recently reported that the University now has more foreign students in attendance than any other public university in America. More than 5,000 people from 120 different countries have come to the Illinois plains to receive a first-class education.

But Chicago-area state Sen. Ed Maloney recently floated the idea of placing a cap on the number of foreign students allowed to attend the University. He fears that as the international student population grows, Illinois high school graduates will find it increasingly difficult to gain admittance.

However, something as artificial and arbitrary as a cap on international students would be doing a disservice to this institution and what we’ve been told it stands for.

There is a reason why the University is so highly regarded. After decades of attracting the best and the brightest from all over the world, ours is an institution that is sought after by people from all walks of life. This shouldn’t change.

True, Illinois has more than its fair share of higher education problems. But having what some describe as an excessive international population isn’t one of them. In fact, what makes the University great is the presence of different cultures, viewpoints and ethnicities. Part of our education is learning from different people.

In-state residents are not exactly being left out to dry when it comes to options after high school. The University is only one of twelve state institutions that are available. However, lawmakers should work to close the gap between them by boosting support and standards across the board. Instead of blaming our University for having less room for in-state students, we need to increase the overall number of educational opportunities Illinois offers.

Yes, we admit, it was tough getting accepted here. But as the University attains higher quality and betters its global reputation, greater demand for a University of Illinois education is a fact of life we need to deal with.

This school should do everything it can to turn away as few qualified applicants as possible. But what it shouldn’t do is impose a cap that could actually diminish the student body’s overall quality.

If lawmakers made fully funding higher education a priority, the University may be able to admit more qualified students from everywhere in the world – including from the ever-growing pool of Illinois high school graduates – while still maintaining the quality of education that is vital to continue attracting the best the world can offer.