In response to a comment on a Dutch Courage thread, Burt says:
There are lots of good reasons to accept foreign students. Not the least of which is to cause “brain drain” from other nations.
They send their best and brightest here to be educated. They pay a premium for it, subsidizing in part education to be provided to U.S. citizens and in particular to Californians (in this case). Along they way, they find out that life in the U.S.A. and economic opportunities here after graduation far exceed what is waiting for them back home.
Some go home, after they graduate, and typically maintain contacts with the U.S. citizens they befriended here, doing business with them, and thereby trading with us. That trade contributes to our economy.
But the real goal is for them to decide to stay, or at least to come back. It’s just plain better here. I have friends — industrialists from Sri Lanka, doctors from India and Pakistan, pharmacists from South Africa, lawyers from the UK — all of whom have taken their advanced training and come here to the States, and now they work here. Their labor, their brainpower, their contributions to the economy are to the benefit of the U.S. and are not to the benefit of those nations with whom we compete.
I wish we had more foreign students in our public universities.
I am quite sympathetic to this line of reasoning… except as it applies to California in particular. Theoretically, a state university system exists in good part to educate the residents of that state. That’s why state tax dollars go to this institution and why in-state students typically have lower tuition than out-of-state. This is true for California as it is for the other 49 states. Unlike most other states, however, California’s universities are filled to the brim. This is especially true of the University of California schools, which are selective by their nature. They are reserved for the top 1/8th of students. However, even if you look at the Cal States, a lot of them are comparatively selective as well. Fresno State accepts a little more than half of its applicants. The same for San Jose State and Sacramento State.
To take me as an example, a good but not great student, I would have been able to get into SJSU or Sac State, but even other CSU schools like Cal Poly or San Diego State would have been tough. Now, maybe I’m not “good college” material, but… nowhere comes close to California in this regard. If I were a Californian being told that there just isn’t room for me at one of the state’s premier schools despite the grades to get me into a Michigan State or Texas A&M, I would be resentful as heck that slots are being given to people from lands far away. At the very least, the money they make from doing so should be geared towards letting more Californians in so that they’re not shuffling off to Nevada-Reno or Arizona State. It very much becomes a case of “a spot for them is one less spot for me.”
Now, for states that are not California, I personally think that Burt’s comments are spot-on. Particularly for states that have trouble filling in their universities. Montana and Idaho don’t have a single university with over 20k (Boise State is closest, but is a thoroughly mediocre school), the Dakota schools have trouble with 10k. Of course, if we brought the foreign students in to those states, they might high-tail it back home as soon as they can. So okay, states like Oregon and the under-utilized public universities in the northeast. You get the idea.