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URBANA — The University of Illinois plans to hire hundreds of new faculty members at its three campuses as enrollment rises.

The News-Gazette reports President Tim Killeen told trustees Thursday that the hiring initiative is needed in response to the 7,500 students that have been added since 2014. He says the university system has seen a 9.5 percent increase in students, while faculty has only grown by about 2 percent.

The plan calls for the university system to hire about 900 faculty members over the next five years.

Killeen says faculty hiring lagged as the university struggled with funding during the two-year state budget impasse. He says it's resulted in larger class sizes and higher student to faculty ratio, which hurts the quality of education and the system's national rankings.

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