University of Iowa

UI committed to international and resident recruitment

December 1st, 2014

By Jake Grovum for Stateline

The following is an excerpt from the article "More International Students on Campus, Especially in Some States"

The number of U.S. college students from overseas has skyrocketed in recent years, with more than 886,000 studying on American campuses this past academic year — an all-time high and more than double the number of foreign students 20 years ago.

At a time when many states have squeezed funding for higher education, international students are highly sought after because they pay higher tuition than U.S. students. In some states, as much as 10 percent of college students come from overseas. But other states have far fewer, leaving schools there at a financial and educational disadvantage in an increasingly global and competitive higher education field.

But the increase in international students hasn't met with universal acclaim.

The most common worry, education experts say, is that a focus by public colleges on international students will come at the expense of in-state students. That’s especially true when the concern is over the large, public universities that are some of the most attractive abroad, namely research destinations like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, Arizona State University and Michigan State University, all of which are in the top 10 when it comes to the number of international students.

The issue has gotten particular attention in Iowa, where public university regents have pushed a plan to send more state funding to public colleges in the state that host more in-state students. Specifically, the Board of Regents adopted this year a funding plan that tied 60 percent of state funding to resident full-time enrollment. As a guideline, the board said, “the highest (though not necessarily the sole) priority for state appropriations is to fund the education of resident students.”

That move, some have worried, hurts the University of Iowa (where 47 percent of all students were nonresidents last fall), compared to the other two public colleges in the state, Iowa State University and Northern Iowa University, which had 40 percent and 11 percent nonresident students, respectively. The Iowa City Press-Citizen headlined a story on the change, “Game on: Competition for in-state students intensifies.”

The University of Iowa, for its part, has taken it in stride, and the full effect of the change might not be known for years.

“The University of Iowa has always been a global institution,” said Downing A. Thomas, associate provost and dean of international programs. “We actively recruit here in Iowa and in targeted areas around the world, and currently have over 4,000 students from over 100 countries.”

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