Quality students more important than bottom line

When someone goes to such a school as large as Illinois, it’s easy to forget how many students apply here and don’t get in. It’s a complicated formula that our school has managed, to be one of the largest and still most academically competitive schools in the country.

Some might think that a larger school means less quality of education, but in U of I’s case, that simply isn’t true. At 39th in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report, the University remains a school with high standards and high numbers, a combination of things that normally would result in a very financially stable school.

However, with the recession and the state of affairs in Illinois’ budget, the University is in trouble financially, and they’ve been trying to find solutions any way they can.

The newest possibility being discussed is expanding the admission of out-of-state students, who are given the same resources as in-state students, but at a much higher tuition cost.

The idea is initially appealing: it would bring in a lot of revenue (nearly $15,000 more every year per student). However, the university is a state-funded school, meaning that the money that supports the school comes from Illinois, not California or Texas.

It’s difficult enough for Illinois students to gain admission to the University as it is, and those who are a part of the Revenue Generation Project are aware of this. Tax paying adults whose children would like to go here have the right to expect their admissions potential to stay the same.

Mary Kalantzis, dean of the College of Education, insisted that in-state student admission would be kept to about the same numbers, and that the project hopes to make a large part of this initiative happen through expanding online courses. Even still, a significant number of out-of-state students would be added to on-campus classes, increasing overall class size.

Unfortunately, bigger class sizes could mean less educational quality. The report acknowledges: “Expanding the fraction of non-Illinois residents in the student population may impose space constraints that could compromise core values.”

This is especially true considering the University’s previous action was to cut faculty and mandate furlough days, which isn’t really in line with the idea of making classes even bigger.

It’s not that diversifying the school is a bad thing. Traditionally, it’s been one of the things students can be most proud of, and most love being surrounded by a more diverse community.

However, many Illinois high school students would love the opportunity to be a part of our community, and don’t get the chance to because it’s already quite competitive to gain entry.

Expansion of out-of-state student enrollment shouldn’t come at the expense of qualified Illinois high school students who want to attend school here, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of larger class sizes and compromised academic quality either.