Biting the Hand that Feeds Us: Turning Our Backs on Out-of-State / International Students

June 14, 2012

Bite Across the Dotted Line

I recently read an article on the about a constitutional amendment proposed by the California Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) that would “prevent any UC campus from enrolling more than 10 percent of its undergraduate students from outside California.” According to the article, “out-of-state and international students made up 8.4 percent of UC undergraduates this year. The figure was higher–1.2 percent–at UC Berkeley, and about 30 percent of that campus’s freshmen this year from outside California.”

Sen. Rubio argues that out-of-state students are taking spots away from California-based students whose “parents and grandparents (of UC applicants) have paid taxes to build these campuses.” His concerns would make sense if California state institutions were not faced with the biggest and most drastic budgetary cuts in the state’s history. So, exactly how does he intend to pay for the California-based students? Clearly he must know that out of-state and international students studying at UC campuses are not getting a free ride and benefitting from low tuition rates available to Californians? He must be aware that nonresidents pay a much higher tuition which in fact helps the institutions stay afloat and in an odd roundabout way, end up making enrollment of the resident student possible. For example, tuition at UC Berkeley for a non-resident is about $34,000 per year versus $11,124 for the resident student. The article points out that “State funds make up 12 percent of UC Berkley’s budget this year.” The surplus revenue generated from the non-resident students’ tuition actually makes up for the funds lost in budget cuts imposed by the State.

If the good senator wants to make a difference, then he would need to protect our public institutions against any further funding cuts. Otherwise, our public institutions have no choice but to seek other sources to generate revenue, e.g. non-resident and/or international students and even entertain taking drastic measures, like the recent steps UCLA’s Business School has taken in privatizing its MBA program. On June 7, 2012, the Academic Senate at the University of California Los Angeles voted 53 to 46 to approve a proposal to stop accepting any state funds for the university’s M.B.A. program, and to replace those funds with tuition revenue and private support. The proposal awaits the final approval of Mark Yudof, president of the university system. (It’s expected that Mr. Yudof will approve the proposal.)

If we stop and listen, we can hear the grumblings of students protesting on the campuses of our public institutions. They are angry and their anger is not going to dissipate by turning non-residents away. It’s the tuition burdens put on our CA-resident students that need to be addressed, and cutting back the educational budget is definitely not the way to go about it.

The Frustrated Evaluator

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