Flagship universities across the country for years have been backfilling lost state funding by boosting the number of higher paying students they accept — and aggressively recruit — from other states and countries.
Out-of-state and international students now make up at least 40% of the freshman class at flagship universities in 18 states — up from 10 states in 2000, according to Stephen Burd, a senior policy analyst with New America’s Education Policy Program who questions whether public universities are becoming bastions of privilege.
hThe University of Wisconsin-Madison hopes to boost its numbers if a proposal to lift its 27.5% cap on nonresident undergraduate enrollment through 2020 gains approval from a UW System Board of Regents committee Thursday, and the full board Friday.
The proposal, which UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says could help boost the state’s workforce along with the flagship’s bottom line, would still guarantee at least 3,500 seats to Wisconsin freshmen each year. That guarantee already is in place, and freshman classes have included more than 3,600 Wisconsin residents each of the past three years.
This is a pretty simple issue, but it is directly linked to the mission of the university. UW wants to lift the cap because they want more money. Out-of-state students pay the full freight and UW makes a bundle on them. The noise from Blank about it “boost(ing) the state’s workforce” is political cover because the vast majority of these kids leave the state after graduation.
The problem is that the more seats that are opened up for out-of-state students, the more in-state students will be squeezed out of the state’s flagship university. That detracts from the mission of a state university to serve Wisconsin’s kids.
So this question is not really about the cap on out-of-state students. It’s about the mission of UW Madison. If we want UW Madison’s focus to be on being the research and economic engine that it has become, then lifting the cap makes sense. If we want UW Madison to be a top-notch educational choice for as many Wisconsin citizens as possible, the lifting the cap would erode that mission.