Diverse campus advantageous for university prestige, but comes at a high price for non-Illinois-residents

Diversity at the University is perhaps one of its greatest attributes. Scattered throughout the campus are several campus cultural houses, which represent many of the minority groups, including a women’s center and an office for LGBT students. The multicultural presence contributes significantly to students’ classroom experience, giving students new academic and social perspectives.

As a university with one of the highest enrollments of international students in the world, almost a fifth of our peers hail from overseas, Chancellor Phyllis Wise has pushed the “Global University” slogan as the image of the University this year. Wise has said on many occasions that increasing diversity is one of her top priorities, and looking at these numbers, it’s hard to disagree. And this is a good thing.

It’s hard to think of another place where Americans could simultaneously converse with students from all four hemispheres, attend school alongside 3,379 Chinese students, or sit on a bus for 10 minutes and not hear a word of English. Our own newsroom wouldn’t be the same without the depth of views that international students offer.

Nonetheless, it’s still concerning when you factor all of this in with the rising cost of higher education, or at least the offset of who’s paying for it. International students pay $800 in tuition each year more than out-of-state students, and another $15,000 more than students from Illinois. Per capita, the burden rests much more heavily on out-of-state students, who along with international students pay a larger proportion than seats they fill. It comes down to the uncomfortable fact that international and out-of-state students are bankrolling this university.

We are all numbers. Our GPAs, our SAT and ACT scores, our financial aid, our country of origin, even our race – all are processed into packets of quantified data. If the University feels that certain numbers are more advantageous for the school’s prestige and functionality, it can continue to increase those numbers. If our fellow students come from all corners of the world, that is certainly an advantage for the rest of the school.

Non-Illinois-residents are making up more of the student body each year. But as the total enrollment of the University continues to rise, we aren’t seeing the case yet where in-state students get the boot to allow space for students with higher profit margins. This is the ultimate win-win scenario; students from around the world and in-state students alike are able to attend the University.