Out-of-state students at UC

The University of California, less and less a taxpayer-funded enterprise, is admitting more and more students from outside the state ostensibly to get their higher tuition payments.

There’s a lot more to this than current finances, though.  First, people who come to California as students tend to stay here (not as much as in the past, but a whole lot more than they do at the University of Nebraska or even Ann Arbor).  So we import brains and talent that sticks around to create lots of value for all of us.  This stickiness might even justify subsiding tuition for especially capable out-of-staters, at least if my fellow citizens can learn to think about their children’s welfare and beyond this year’s tax payments.

Second, a college education is much improved by a diverse cohort of students. Californians are fairly provincial, having mostly grown up in homeogeneous suburbs with experiences limited to what their parents will drive them to.  It’s good for them to go to college with people from other places (including other countries).

I’m quite happy to ratchet up our out-of-state enrollment, but selling more high-price tickets is the least of it.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

20 thoughts on “Out-of-state students at UC”

  1. “Californians are fairly provincial, having mostly grown up in homeogeneous suburbs with experiences limited to what their parents will drive them to.”

    I think this sentence should start with the word “Southern” to improve its accuracy.

  2. Heh, Californians as “provincial.” I like that. But the most provincial people I have ever come across are Manhattanites, and not those from Kansas.

  3. Depends on what you mean by “provincial.” If it’s the belief that everyone else must believe just as you do, then northern Californians are as provincial, generally, as anyone. Even if their (our) consumerism is exceptional.

    I’m a native of the Bay Area and lived many years in other parts of the U.S.

  4. @ KLG

    As former denizen of the Little Apple (Manhattan, Kansas), thanks. I think that was a compliment, anyway. But if you’ve spent any time in Manhattan (my Manhattan, not the one in New York) you know that there are some seriously parochial people there.

  5. “if my fellow citizens can learn to think about their children’s welfare and beyond this year’s tax payments”

    Californians pay an above-national-average portion of their GDP to state and local government already. And that government spends an even greater portion than it takes in … creating debt to be paid off by Californians in the future. If the state’s universities are under-funded then the money must be going somewhere else.

    Strongly suggest that you start writing posts decrying the over-spending elsewhere instead of whining about the taxpayers, who seem to be doing their share.

  6. “Californians pay an above-national-average portion of their GDP to state and local government already.”

    And as a result we have an above-average niceness of the society we live in. You’d prefer we degrade to the level of Mississippi? Heck, why stop there, why not aspire to a society with all the comforts and delights of Somalia?

    If you have complaints about how California spends its money, gives details, with evidence. Simply whining “oh, we spend too much. I want free ice cream, and a pony” is not a useful contribution.

  7. Passing By, and certain of them could afford to pay a heck of a lot more, the fact that they don’t right now, while social services and infrastructure is being cut, being a testament to our warped sense of social justice.

  8. @ Bloix,

    What do you think ‘ostensibly’ means? My dictionary says, “Apparently, but perhaps not actually.” That makes sense here. There are reasons besides charging higher tuition to admit out of state students to UC campuses.

  9. Dennis, when you say “ostensibly” you imply that the explanation that you’ve been given is untrue. O’Hare provides no reason to believe that UC’s professed motivation is false even as he accuses it of lying. So i was being charitable and assuming that he didn’t know he was accusing it of lying. it looks more to me like he’s trying to say that the motivation for the action is increased revenue but there are other good effects, even though there are no reasons to think that they were motivating causes.

  10. Maynard Handley–“And as a result we have an above-average niceness of the society we live in. You’d prefer we degrade to the level of Mississippi?”

    Maynard, we have a wonderful place to live, but it’s not because California state and local government spend so much money. Washington State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey are all pretty nice places too, and generally provide fairly high-quality government services. But they all spend much smaller portion of GDP … near or below the US national average.

    Let’s face it — government in California is inefficient.

    Anyway, my argument is not to lower California taxes … it’s to get the quantity and quality of services we’re paying for. Specifically, if Professor O’Hare thinks that the state universities are under-funded, then he should explain where the money’s going, since it’s definitely going somewhere.

  11. >Second, a college education is much improved by a diverse cohort of students.

    I hear this a lot, but as a recent graduate of the UC system, I’m just not so sure its true. (especially since value is a nebulous concept – are you talking about economic value? (Which the rest of your post is about) or value in the sense that college should expand your horizons etc etc etc.

    Perhaps having a completely homogeneous campus would be bad, but to me I don’t see the real “benefits” of diversity in itself, especially when you already have reasonable diversity.

    In other words, if diversity is on a scale of 1 to 100, 1 being completely homogeneous, and 100 being completely diverse, going from 1 (or 5) to 11 or 15 or whatever be useful, but going from 20 to 30? or 25 to 35?

    Not so much.

    Honestly, what was most lacking in my UC education was other students who spoke up (and did so in a reasonably coherent manner) Yes, perhaps in an ideal world, having every student speak up, and getting a huge diverse rank of viewpoints could happen, but not in the UC System. I would have taken more people speaking up, no matter how similar or different their background was to mine

  12. Washington State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey are all pretty nice places too, and generally provide fairly high-quality government services. But they all spend much smaller portion of GDP … near or below the US national average.

    Did you even look at the chart CharleyCarp provided? California has the 17th highest tax rate, at 5.6% of GDP. Two of the states you list have *higher* rates than that: Minnesota is 8th at 6.5% (and overall, I think we get our money’s worth) and Wisconsin is 14th at 6.0%. Connecticut is 18th at 5.5%, Washington is 23rd at 5.4% and Massachusetts is 25th at 5.3%. There’s very little to separate a bunch of states in the middle, and I wouldn’t characterize any of these as *much* lower than California. That leaves New Jersey at 33rd and 5.0% as your only example.

    Try again?

  13. And I wonder how much of the GDP generated by people who live in NJ depends on infrastructure funded by NY and PA taxpayers. Is the Jersey Turnpike a break even operation, or are people who drive between DC and NYC subsidizing NJ? I know that I pay more to drive in NJ than I do in South Dakota . . .

  14. @ Bloix,

    You need to learn to read dictionaries. Ostensibly is the mot juste for this situation. Let me repeat the definition my dictionary gives: “apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually.” I’ve added emphasis on perhaps. If you think someone’s lying you say they’re lying. If you think there are additional (or alternative) explanations beyond those given, you use ostensibly.

    So, in a word, the word ostensibly does not mean the author believes the explanation is a lie. It does mean that the author believes there are additional explanations.

    If you have a dictionary that gives a flat-out definition of ostensibly as lying, bring in the citation. I’m using the dictionary provided on my Macintosh, Merriam-Webster gives as its operative definition “to all outward appearances.”

    So, not to put too fine a point on it, ostensibly doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

  15. There seem to be a number of states doing this. Just last month there was an article about the University of Washington requiring higher grades for in state students as compared to out of state students who pay higher tuition. Given how state colleges have been increasingly expected to pay their own way, this isn’t surprising.

    Personally, I think taxes are too low, and they aren’t progressive enough. If you look at the free market, people pay good money to live in places where they pay higher taxes. Real estate agents always point out high school taxes as a plus. I think the rule of thumb is that people pay an extra $10,000 per extra percent of income going to taxes. The free market does not lie. When people vote with their wallets, they vote for higher taxes.

    Also, I think diversity is very important in education. It’s easy to spend one’s life in a tunnel and not understand anything about the world. Of course, it helps if you look around a bit.

  16. J Michael neal–“Did you even look at the chart CharleyCarp provided? California has the 17th highest tax rate, at 5.6% of GDP”

    Yes, I looked at Charley’s data. But I didn’t rely on it, for two reasons. First, it only covers state government, but valid cross-state comparisons must include both state and local government. Second, it captures taxes, but the debate is about spending; the difference is the level of deficits, which is exceptionally high in California.

    Mississippi 27.42%
    Alaska 26.93%
    South Carolina 25.41%
    New Mexico 24.11%
    Vermont 23.74%
    New York 23.02%
    Montana 22.61%
    California 22.50%
    Maine 22.48%
    Alabama 22.47%
    Rhode Island 22.33%
    West Virginia 22.20%
    Nebraska 22.04%
    Kentucky 21.96%
    Michigan 21.95%
    Ohio 21.83%
    Oregon 21.39%
    Wyoming 21.30%
    Florida 21.26%
    Arizona 21.11%
    Hawaii 20.70%
    Louisiana 20.67%
    Washington 20.66%
    Arkansas 20.51%
    Wisconsin 20.50%
    Idaho 20.44%
    Utah 20.23%
    Pennsylvania 20.22%
    United States 20.04%
    Georgia 19.54%
    Tennessee 19.49%
    Minnesota 19.34%
    Indiana 19.33%
    New Jersey 19.31%
    Kansas 19.13%
    Iowa 19.00%
    Missouri 18.97%
    Maryland 18.74%
    Oklahoma 18.73%
    Massachusetts 18.60%
    Illinois 18.25%
    North Carolina 18.21%
    North Dakota 18.00%
    Colorado 17.11%
    New Hampshire 16.61%
    Nevada 16.35%
    Connecticut 16.23%
    Virginia 15.94%
    South Dakota 15.78%
    Texas 15.42%
    Delaware 14.67%

    My source for government spending is the US Census, which surveys both stste and local governments annually. Most recent data is for FY 2007-08, so I used the 2008 GDP estimates

  17. CharleyCarp–“And I wonder how much of the GDP generated by people who live in NJ depends on infrastructure funded by NY and PA taxpayers.”

    A fair point … it’s hard to untangle the various states’ contributions to metropolitan NYC’s economy. But that can’t be the right explanation, since it doesn’t account for Washington State, Massachusetts, etc.

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