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UI reaches out of Iowa

BY JOHN DOETKOTT | NOVEMBER 18, 2009 7:21 AM

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The UI Admissions Office has seen a spike in applications from last year, with the majority coming from students outside Iowa, officials said.

The UI has received around 1,500 more applications this year compared with last year at this time — and more than 1,250 of those are from nonresident and international students, Michael Barron, the director of Admissions, wrote in an e-mail.

And it fits with a growing trend of admitting more out-of-state students at the UI.

In 2009, the UI enrolled more out-of-state freshmen than resident freshmen for the first time.

Roughly 51 percent of first-year students are not from Iowa, though overall only 38 percent of total undergraduates hail from elsewhere.

UI Provost Wallace Loh said this fits into the university’s plan to bring in more students and transform into what he called a “destination university.” Loh said the UI is “no longer isolated in the Heartland” and needs to recruit more international and other students to become a more diverse and ultimately better university.

UI officials have already discussed bringing 100 new students to campus each year for the next five years. Loh said officials would target both resident and nonresident students to make up that 100 students and disregarded the idea that the increase is meant solely to generate revenue.

“I don’t think anything should be done strictly on the basis of revenue,” he said but noted that it is a factor.

For the 2009-10 school year, the average out-of-state undergraduate student will pay more than $30,000 for tuition and housing; in-state students pay around half that number.

Loh said the UI will eventually need to add more out-of-state students because the number of high-school graduates in Iowa is steadily decreasing.

“It’s a very significant strategic issue,” he said, and there’s a dwindling number of qualified students graduating from Iowa high schools. “We still admit every qualified student.”

Loh noted that Iowa has one of the oldest populations in the nation — 14.8 percent of Iowa’s population is over the age of 65, higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — and said more international students stay and get their first job in Iowa than native Iowans do. Loh said adding outside students does more than help the UI, it helps the whole state.

“It’s more than increasing revenue; it’s also thinking long-term,” he said.

But other university presidents say funding is an important issue when admitting out-of-state students. Officials from several state university officials — including the University of Washington and University of Virginia — told the Washington Post that tipping the scales toward nonresidents is one way to increase revenue.

Barron said increased visibility through the Internet, including the UI’s presence on Facebook and YouTube, can be credited with much of the increase of applications overall. But he also said more traditional marketing has helped attract new students.

“Certainly, athletics keeps the name out there,” Barron said. “It doesn’t hurt us that others have labeled us a best buy.”

Loh credits the increase in applications to four factors: the economy, the football season, a change in the admissions formula, and the emerging economies of countries around the world.

More students are going to college to ride out the recession as well, he said, and the winning football season has brought the university greater publicity. Loh also noted high-school counselors now understand the UI’s new admissions formula, and a growing number of students in developing countries can afford to come to the United States for college.


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