ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK
The University of Illinois’ latest request from taxpayers is almost $100 million more than last year, with most of the money earmarked for raises.
The university calls it a commitment to “strengthen academic quality.”
University leaders want to ask lawmakers for $98 million dollars more next year, so they can spend almost $70 million on raises. This year’s request is for $680 million compared to the $582 million requested last year.
Professors would get a lot of the new money, but not all of it, according to university spokesman Tom Hardy.
“Some of this has been identified as resources that can help us recruit and retain world class faculty members,” Hardy said. “But also it would support salary programs for other employees as well.”
Hardy says the U of I couldn’t offer raises two years ago, and has offered only 3 percent raises since.
Hardy says the school pays attention to the cost that students pay, but says without raises the U of I won’t be competitive for faculty and staff.
“The university is very sensitive to those issues about affordability and accessibility,” Hardy said. “Because one of the things that a lot of prospective students bring up as to why they didn’t attend the University of Illinois, is that high cost.”
Much of the explosion in the cost of a university degree in Illinois isn’t because of the costs in the classrooms. An Illinois Senate report in 2015 tracked the skyrocketing expansion of administrative costs at Illinois’ public universities.
Between 2005 and 2015, student enrollment at Illinois universities fell almost 3 percent, the cost for professors and faculty members increased by 2 percent, and the cost for university administrators jumped by over 26 percent.
During about the same time, more and more Illinois students left the state to attend college elsewhere because they could pay the same or less for a degree at the University of Missouri, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and the University of Iowa than at the U of I.
The Illinois State Board of Higher Education said in 2014, a then all time high of 33,700 students, left Illinois to go to college somewhere else.
Hardy is quick to say however, that enrollment at the University of Illinois has held steady over the years. Other Illinois public universities have seen dramatic declines in their enrollment numbers.
Hardy said that the new U of I’s budget already includes about $60 million to help lure top-flight faculty members to the school. This new request, however, is outside of a $3 billion private fundraising goal that could also help boost pay for some university professors and researchers.