Tuition-paying Chinese squeeze out Asian-Americans

Cash-strapped California are recruiting tuition-paying international and out-of-state students, leaving fewer places for Californians, reports Bloomberg News. Often that means Chinese students get in while high-achieving Asian-Americans, many of them the children of immigrants, do not.

Kwanhyun Park, the 18-year-old son of Korean immigrants, spent four years at Beverly Hills High School earning the straight As and high test scores he thought would get him into the University of California, San Diego. They weren’t enough.

In 2009, UC=San Diego cut its number of in-state freshmen by 500 to about 3,400 to make room for out-of-state and international students. California residents pay $13,234 in annual tuition while nonresidents pay $22,878.

The number of Chinese freshman soared from 16 to 200; the number of Asian-American Californians fell by 29 percent.


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  1. Other state schools have been doing this for a long time. The University of Vermont (UVM) has a 67% out-of-state undergrad population and the freshman class is likely to be 72% out-of-state, according to a quick search. Even back in the 60s, a large chunk of the students were from the Boston and New York metro areas. Academically strong and very popular schools like UVa, UC-Chapel Hill, SC-Columbia and UF-Gainesville have caps on out-of-staters – I think about 10%; UVM has none.

  2. And how many of those foreign Chinese have legitimate applications? It’s outrageous that hardworking Californian kids can’t get into the UC’s of their choice while the state is recruiting foreigners from a country notorious for faked credentials.

    • That’s only if you think a college degree is worth its price. The rising tide of discussion on the topic brings the carefully fostered belief that degrees are worth their price into question and this little gem just helps bring the issue into focus.

      All that California’s higher education institutions are doing is charging what the market will bear.

      The only reason to question the legitimacy of the transaction is that the price being asked doesn’t spring from a free exchange but the end result of a market highly-distorted by subsidies. Universities have squeezed as much as they’re going to squeeze out of state legislatures, the federal government, students and their families. Now, to satisfy unending institutional greed entrance slots are going to the highest bidder.

      What’s convenient about this story is that it puts a precise dollar figure on the moral pretensions of the peddlers of a college degree – $9,644.

    • Cranberry says:

      The Chinese kids are fighting it out in a country of more than a billion people. The California has a population of about 37 million.

      There is no need to speculate about falsified credentials. There will be more really bright students in the Chinese pool than in the Californian pool because there are so many more people. Most of the Chinese students in high school will be only children–perhaps the second generation of only children. This means their parents and all their grandparents will support their education.

      I would assume that many of the Californian students would be glad to match the entry fee demanded of the out of state and international students, but (I assume) they aren’t allowed to. That is, the very status which should make access to the state colleges their parents’ taxes support makes it impossible to attend those colleges.

      • Didn’t you read that New York Times article a few months ago that discussed the widespread falsifying of Chinese applications to American universities? It was something like 90% of the letters of recommendation, 75% of essays, and 50% of high school transcripts were totally fake. I don’t doubt that there are huge numbers of bright, hard-working Chinese students. However, until the issue of fake credentials can be brought under control, American universities should boycott admitting those students.

        • Absolutely. I have no doubt that a lot of fake credentials are used to get Chinese kids in.

        • Cranberry says:

          Crimson Wife, thank you for mentioning the article. It was an interesting treatment of this new problem colleges are bringing upon themselves.

          As I like to play devil’s advocate, the problem of inflated or falsified credentials is not limited to China. There are online services which apparently will sell application essays (and essays to students who are enrolled in high school and college.) The Long Island SAT cheating case, recently featured on 60 Minutes, must also be considered. In Fort Lee, New Jersey, the high school guidance department is accused of giving certain students better grades on the transcript: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/nyregion/08towns.html.

          Students from Stuyvesant High School submitted a student editorial to the New York Times about SAT cheating: http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2011/10/12/pressure-and-lack-of-repercussions-are-cited-in-sat-cheating/.

          In short, there are likely to be a certain number of American students who can pay full tuition, yet whose academic skills don’t match their grades and test scores.

          Rather than rely upon school grades and standardized tests, a college-specific entrance exam would seem to be more reliable–but that’s precisely the problem the SAT seemed to solve.

      • This assumes that Chinese children and parents choose for themselves to apply to US schools. It assumes they live in an open society where they have some opportunities to determine their own destiny.

        They do not. They live in the PRC.

        The Party determines who gets an exit visa and who doesn’t, which party officials’ kid goes to the US and whose does not; who will be most likely to report home their findings. who will be most likely to get the cirrect education and return home with it, who will be most likely to infiltrate desired corporations.

        they do not want their best and brightest to get any positive ideas about America and return home with them. they choose carefully who comes and how.

  3. Cranberry says:

    UVA enrolls 30% out-of-state students: http://www.nbc29.com/Global/story.asp?S=9993928

    UVA Dean of Admissions Greg Roberts stated, “We love the in-state students, don’t get me wrong, they are the heart of this school. Economically the in-state students are really subsidized by the out-of-state students. If you look at our out of state numbers, about 69-70% overall are Virginians.”
    (…)
    Right now UVA is made up of about 33 percent out-of-state students. Roberts quotes tuition for out-of-state students at about $40,000 per year and about $20,000 for in-state students.

    As of 2008, state law limited UNC-chapel Hill’s out of state enrollment to 18%: http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2008/08/21/mid-atlantic-road-trip-unc-chapel-hill

    The author of the piece presents it as international applicants squeezing out American Asian applicants. However, aren’t other in-state applicants affected as well? And a certain percentage of the spots went to out-of-state US citizens, didn’t they?

    • I stand corrected about the level of in-state requirements. I know that, at one point, UF-Gainesville had a 10% cap on out-of-staters and that the out-of-state caps in VA and NC have experienced pressure (to change) in recent years.

      • Cranberry says:

        I think it’s changing worldwide. I’ve read of similar concerns about UK universities, i.e. spots being allotted to international students rather than UK students.

        It could be a boon for good local private colleges. If good students can’t get in to the appropriate tier of their local state system, a good private college in the area might be more attractive than an out of state college which costs the same.

        Of course, whether private or public, merit scholarships can change the math. It is conceivable, though, that it could be less expensive to attend a private college than an out of state public college.

        • –It could be a boon for good local private colleges.

          except most of them have already turned to intl students to subsidize their schools.

          • Cranberry says:

            except most of them have already turned to intl students to subsidize their schools.

            I wasn’t speaking only of international students. Out-of-state students are usually US citizens.

            The shifts in in-state/out-of-state ratios represent a gradual privatization of state universities. At what point of state financial support would it be better for the universities to go private? 14% of the budget? 10%? 7%?

            It might not be possible, as politicians love control. It is bitterly unfair to middle-class kids, though, to be refused access to their local state universities because they’re not permitted to compete with out-of-state applicants on the basis of tuition. They often don’t qualify for need-based scholarships, but the difference between an in-state school and an out-of-state school (or private school) can be significant.

            I think it is also not fair to pursue diversity at all costs. Yes, out-of-state students could be thought to add “diversity,” because they come from out of state. On the other hand, shouldn’t a state university system serve the state’s residents first and foremost?

  4. Non-PC as it is to mention it, there are also potential espionage issues, both national-security and other, with foreign students. I don’t think there’s much question about the Chinese government’s willingness to use its people for its own purposes and to enforce such use by exerting pressure on their families if necessary. There’s apparently also quite a bit on non-English-language Islamic websites about the desirability of stealth jihad and the infiltration – military and government – of non-Islamic countries, to this end. I’m not saying that there should be no such foreign students; only that some caution/screening be used to protect ourselves.

    • It’s comments like these that show that the right-wing has jumped the shark.

      • Jab, I learned Chinese at the Defense Language Institute. I also attend a Chinese church in the area where I live and work; the church has a special outreach to students here from Mainland China, many for their doctorates. I have been forbidden from engaging any of these students outside of a formal church setting. I think Army Counter-Intelligence was being a bit paranoid for issuing me such an order. I also think you’re being a bit naive.

        • I don;t think army CI was wrong at all. My experience in a defense contractor setting and in the tech sector in the bay area was enough to see there were no times that Chinese nationals approached me without asking me technical information, while also trying to ingratiate themselves to me, claiming absurd connections to break down the typical social defenses.

          We are such idiots here in the US. We can’t play this game to save our lives.

      • JAB; are you saying that neither Chinese espionage nor Islamist steath jihad are issues about which the US should be concerned? My kids had recent-Chinese-immigrant classmates whose parents were concerned about possible Chinese government pressure on relatives still in China and it seems pretty clear that Major Hasan (he of the shootings, while shouting “Allah Akbar”) was not held to appropriate medical/behavioral standards because of political correctness.

    • Cranberry says:

      I presume international students don’t only hail from China. I would expect wealthy South and Central Americans to find the California Universities attractive.

      • I’ve heard that there are lots of sons and daughters of wealthy Nigerians at competitive US colleges, gaining AA benefits – also black Caribbean/South Americans. AA was originally designed for descendendents of slaves, but now often benfits those who are (1) foreigners or (2) recent black or Hispanic immigrants – and their kids- whose ancestors never experienced discrimination in this country. My kids had a number of friends who fell into category 2.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          A number of the old school “affirmative action should be about making up for past discrimination” people are mad at this. Since they tend to believe that all “people or color” are discriminated against, they are not too mad; they generally like the increase in foreign-born (or recent immigrant) POCs but they would like to see the native-born numbers increase also.

  5. PS: As to the financial aspect, maybe schools should drastically prune some – lots- of their admin/bureaucratic fat. UCSD was the first school mentioned in the linked article and I think I remember a recent article, linked on this website, describing the establishment of yet-another diversity office at UCSD, even as academic programs were cut.

  6. Momof4,

    As I’ve said in many postings, college has become a business, rather than a place to obtain an education (albeit an expensive one).

  7. Once they cheat their way into American universities, they cheat their way to a degree. It’s the Chinese way.