Summary of University of Illinois Admissions Firewall Practices

Each System university has a practice or practices that inform what are permissible and impermissible inquiries regarding the admission of students.  Simply stated, there is a "firewall" around those individuals - faculty, administrators and admissions staff - who review applications for admission and make admissions decisions at each university.

The firewall practices stipulate that only the applicant or the applicant's parents/legal guardian, spouse or high school counselor are permitted to contact an admissions officer to discuss or inquire about a student's application for admission.  All others, including University System administrators, are not permitted to discuss or inquire about a student's application for admission with a campus admissions officer.

University admissions officers are aware that if contacted by someone other than the applicant or the applicant's parents/legal guardian, spouse or high school counselor to discuss or inquire about a student's application for admission, their responsibilities are to:

  • Notify the inquirer that no outside information will be considered in the admissions process;
  • Notify the inquirer that such impermissible third-party inquiries are not permitted and will be reported in the fashion consistent with firewall practice in effect at that university;
  • Ensure that no record of the inquiry is included in the applicant's file and that the third-party information/inquiry is not considered in the admissions decision-making process.

What Does that Mean for Me as Someone Not Involved Directly in Admissions?

Since the firewall is placed around the admissions officers on each campus, you are not permitted to contact any admissions officer to discuss or inquire about a student's application for admission.

There are no restrictions, however, in engaging in such discussions with others.  For example, if you are approached by a parent at a football game or an alumnus at a reception, you may discuss a student's application for admission because no admissions officer is present.  A violation of the firewall would only occur if you then passed the contents of that conversation on to a campus admissions officer.  Instead, you should tell the inquirer that the applicant or the applicant's parents/legal guardian, spouse or high school counselor should contact the appropriate admissions office directly if they have questions.

Some scenarios you may encounter, and the appropriate responses, include:

Scenarios Responses

SCENARIO 1
A parent calls or emails you to ask when admissions decisions will be released, whether references are required, etc.

RESPONSE 1
You or your staff may discuss admissions process questions (e.g., deadlines, requirements, references are required, etc.) with an admissions officer as long as the name or details of a specific applicant are not discussed.

SCENARIO 2
You or your office receives an unsolicited call or email from parent asking about the status of their child's application for admission.

RESPONSE 2
You or your staff should encourage the parent to contact the appropriate admissions office.

SCENARIO 3
Someone other than the applicant or the applicant's parents/legal guardian, spouse or high school counselor calls to inquire about the status of someone's application for admission.

RESPONSE 3
You should inform the caller that such inquiries are impermissible.

SCENARIO 4
A parent of an admitted or current student calls or emails to check on financial aid, course registration, housing, etc.

RESPONSE 4
You are free to discuss this inquiry with the appropriate personnel because the student is already admitted and is no longer an applicant.

SCENARIO 5
You are at a football game or fundraising event and an alumnus asks you to check on the status of his child's application or offers to make a contribution if s/he is admitted.

RESPONSE 5
There is no violation of the firewall because you are not an admissions officer and no admissions officer is present.  A violation would occur, however, if you attempted to pass any portion of the contact to a University admissions officer.

SCENARIO 6
A local or state legislator calls or emails asking if and when a constituent's child will be admitted.

RESPONSE 6
You may discuss process issues, such as deadlines, with an admissions officer and share those process details with the legislator.  You may not, however, discuss a particular applicant with an admissions officer or share any information about a particular applicant with the legislator.  You should tell the legislator that the applicant or the applicant's parents/legal guardian, spouse, or high school counselor should contact the appropriate admissions officer directly if they have questions.

SCENARIO 7
Your own child has applied to one of the three universities and you would like to check if his/her application is complete.

RESPONSE 7
You may contact the admissions office or an admissions officer because your rights as a parent supersede your responsibilities as an administrator.

SCENARIO 8
An applicant or applicant's parents/legal guardian, spouse, or high school counselor call or email to express their disappointment about being denied admission.

RESPONSE 8
You should notify the caller of the applicant's right to appeal if s/he has compelling new information relevant to the admissions criteria for consideration and direct the call to the appropriate admissions office.

 

 

Violations of the firewall practices or attempts to circumvent these practices should be reported to the University Ethics Officer.