The Times' July 20 editorial, " UC gets smarter about cuts, applauds the efforts of the University of California system to boost revenues by increasing enrollment of higher-paying out-of-state students. While providing desperately needed funds in the short run, this strategy is essentially a "beggar thy neighbor" policy applied to public education; that is, an attempt to recruit "outsiders" to pay for the void created by declining local support.
The politically driven scenario to maintain low resident tuition and enroll nonresident students leads to a fascinating paradox. Imagine the plight of a highly qualified California resident applicant who lives within a few miles of the Arizona border and is willing to pay out-of-state tuition to attend UC Berkeley. But she is told by the university she cannot do so. Why? Not because she is not qualified but because the state of California believes it should maintain a low tuition for all California residents; they will not allow her to pay more. Her choices are to establish residency in Arizona or attend a private university or another state's top public university. Either way, the UC system loses a highly qualified student and perhaps a productive resident in the future.
In the current system, in-state capacity is limited by the political desire to provide low-tuition access. Qualified resident students who are willing to pay the higher nonresident tuition are prevented from doing so and, in essence, face a form of rationing because there is a political reluctance to support substantial increases in resident tuition. Ironically, in California and Illinois, for example, this scenario is causing a migration of residents who become the nonresident students of neighboring states (Arizona and Iowa, respectively). In the end, states trade students among themselves to enhance revenue.