Is a state university still fulfilling its mission if it enrolls nearly as many out-of-state students as in-state ones? Is a public university fulfilling its mission if it’s reducing the number of seats for low-income students while increasing spots for wealthier ones?
These questions are increasingly being asked in many states around the country—and for good reason. Stung by sharp budget cuts, public universities in numerous states are increasingly seeking alternative revenue sources: namely, affluent out-of-state and international students who can afford to pay the higher tuition rates charged of them.
To investigate this trend, I recently looked at U.S. Department of Education data to see how enrollments shifted at more than 400 U.S. public colleges and universities between 2000 and 2012. I found that about 60 percent of these schools saw the percentage of their in-state freshmen population decline during this time period. Nearly one-fifth of the institutions saw a drop of 10 percentage points or more. And 11 schools experienced a reduction of at least 20 percentage points.
Out-of-state and international students make up at least 40 percent of the freshmen class at flagship universities in 18 states, up from 10 states in 2000. They comprise less than 20 percent of the flagships’ entering classes in only eight states, down from in 16 states in 2000. <Read more.>