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UI heightens efforts to bring in nonresidents

BY KELLIE PETERSEN | JANUARY 20, 2010 7:30 AM

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In response to suffering the largest cut in state funding for higher education nationwide, UI officials are looking to bring in more out-of-state and international students than ever.

University officials are actively seeking applicants from beyond Iowa’s borders to cope with the massive cuts, UI Provost Wallace Loh told members of the Faculty Council on Tuesday.

Iowa cut state funding to higher education by roughly 21 percent between fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010, more than any other state in that time frame, according to a report released Monday by Inside Higher Ed.

“That’s just a horrendous level to be cut,” said UI Faculty Senate President David Drake, and it’s not a ranking he’s proud of.

The UI brought in more money from tuition than in state appropriations for the first time this year, Loh said. The General Education Fund also shrunk for the first time in the school’s history.

So the UI has expanded its efforts in areas outside the state with a high number of UI applicants, for example “certain high schools in Illinois that have traditionally been a pipeline for the UI,” Loh said.

The UI is also sending recruitment teams to 25 different countries to solicit international students.

“Instead of waiting for them to passively apply, we are actively recruiting them,” Loh said. “We’re expecting, hoping, for a substantial increase in enrollment.”

Effects on the recruitment efforts can already be seen on campus.

In 2009, around 51 percent of freshman students were not from Iowa. Overall, only 38 percent of undergraduates don’t hail from the UI’s home state.

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.

But Loh maintained there will always be spots at the UI for Iowa high-school graduates who meet the admission requirements. Because of Iowa’s decreasing high-school graduation rate, the university will try to fill the gap with students from elsewhere.

UI officials have been planning to gradually increase enrollment by 100 students each year for the next five years. Loh has said in the past that the increase will target both resident and nonresident students and isn’t solely to generate more revenue.

Drake acknowledged increasing enrollment would “bring a large amount of tuition dollars to the university.”

But school officials are still worried how the university will cope with massive budget cuts that have hacked off 25 percent of the UI’s budget, roughly $65 million. Drake noted that UI deans won’t see any increases in their budgets this year.

“It’s setting the stage for a budget that for the first time in history has shrunk,” he said after the meeting. “It looks like it is going to be a fairly dire year.”

Other members of the Faculty Council praised the UI administration for its attempts to cope with the budget situation.

“I applaud the effort of this university for making strategic cuts,” Faculty Council member and law Professor Sheldon Kurtz said.

And to avoid deep cuts while making up for lost state investments, university officials are pushing for more nonresident students who bring in more tuition dollars.

Budget woes will likely become a long-term problem, and admitting more students is a long-term solution, Loh said.

“If I believed we would be out of the recession in one to two years, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” he said.


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