NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganGrowing a city and state’s global recognition and allure takes a lot of things. Having a smart, educated population is paramount among them, and so is creating educational diversity. Business and commerce innovations at the local level are often driven by thinkers and innovators from all over the world, bound by curiosity and ambition. As a country, we’ve historically fed our higher education systems with a strong number of international students.

Education MigrationAs our landscapes change and borders become smaller, Illinois is seeing growth in international college students who may stick around as professionals and feed our home economy.

At the same time, though, the state grapples with the problem of our our top home-grown high school graduates opting out of state schools because the financial packages are simply better outside of Illinois.

Cultivating a home economy capable of curbing brain drain can be challenging when Illinois is the nation’s largest net exporter of first year university students to other states’ schools.

Yet at the same time, according to the Institute of International Education, Illinois ranks fifth for the number of international students, with more than 50,000 enrolled last year, Public colleges and universities in particular have come to rely on the students’ tuition dollars at a time of declining state support. UIC, DePaul and Loyola have all seen spikes in 2017 international applications.

We hope that the state can find a way to better support Illinois high school students aiming for a state education. We obviously welcome international students and what they add to Illinois, but it’d be good to find a balance that involves the evolution of affordable university aid packages for promising in-state students. Both belong here, and everybody benefits by keeping that kind of brainpower and energy close to home.


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