Is Foreign Tuition Money Squeezing Out Asian American College Students?

One of the predictions from the admissions officer who spoke at The Daughter’s High School was that as public universities get their funding cut, they will seek to increase revenue by recruiting more out of state students who can pay much higher tuition rates. This subject also came up in an 8asians discussion about affirmative action. The ever acerbic mwei stated:

“…most likely they’ll try to get more of the rich international students from Asia anyhow to boost up their sales to get higher profit margins, erhm, I mean their tuitions for higher education quality.  So ‘Asian-American students’ lose out again, because you know they equate Asia Asians as the same and the Asian quota is filled by rich Asia Asians.”

mwei is actually right here.  Foreign students, many from China, are beginning to push out Asian American students from public colleges.

The article from Bloomberg cites the example of Kwanhyun Park, who with straight A’s, high test scores, basketball and volleyball team experience, and eight AP classes, couldn’t get into UC San Diego. In 2009, UC administrators told UC San Diego admissions to reduce the number of in state freshman by 500 and replace those with out of state students. Asian American enrollment at UC San Diego dropped by 29 percent while enrollment of freshman from China increased to 200. It’s not just California too.  At the University of Washington Seattle, in-state enrollment declined by 500 while out of state students, the majority of who are international of which two thirds are from China, increased to 34% of the incoming freshman class.

There is an element of anti-Chinese scapegoating in the Bloomberg article, starting with the title of “Lure of Chinese Tuition Money squeezes out Asian-American Students”. There is also no way to prove that Kwanhyun Park was replaced by a Chinese student, and the article does point out that only one in five international students in the US are from China. Chinese students feel the resentment.  One student from China says about resident students:

“They think ‘The foreign students, they admit some who are not fit, maybe they’re not good at academics.’  It makes me upset.”

Some of the numbers don’t add up. Asian American enrollment at U.C. Berkeley from 2009 to 2010 dropped from 22% (a 314 student decline), Chinese student enrollment increased during the same time from 55 to 96. White enrollment dropped 29%.

The root cause of in-state enrollment drops is funding cuts. “The state is not a fully reliable partner in funding anymore,” said Scott Waugh, the provost at UCLA. “If we’re going to give California residents the education they want and deserve, we need non-Californians to help pay for it.”  Funding for the UC system has dropped by 28% since 2007 and faces another cut of $100 million.

[Creative Commons Photo Credit of Giesel Library at U.C. San Diego: Xavier de Jaureguiberry]

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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