Bridge Magazine examines increase in out of state and international college students

Feb 24, 2013

The headline on a recent Bridge Magazine article asks “Is a student from China taking my kid’s college slot?” The story uses a series of charts to show the rise of out of state and international students at some universities in Michigan. 

Michigan State University Administration Building
Credit Michigan State University

Bridge Correspondent Ron French spoke about the findings with WMUK’s Gordon Evans. French says Michigan State University has had a massive increase in international enrollment and virtually all of the increase is from China. There are now about 1500 freshmen at MSU from China alone, it was four ten years ago.

The rise in international students at Michigan State and students who come from other states to the University of Michigan and other schools has come in the same decade when universities have seen their state appropriation reduced. Could universities be looking for students who will pay more than the rate on in-state students? French says some university officials are very open about that, and some are not. He says if you just look at the numbers of out of state students, it appears that the large research universities have made a decision to try and recoup some of the lost money from the state. 

Most Michigan universities have high concentrations of in-state enrollment, 83% of Western Michigan University students come from within the state. Besides the University of Michigan and Michigan State, Michigan Tech. and Northern Michigan also draw a fair number of students from outside the state. French says the number of out of state students at Northern Michigan University has increased sharply. The number of high school graduates in Michigan is dropping and French says it’s dropping more precipitously in the Upper Peninsula. He says Northern Michigan has increased its marketing in Wisconsin and Illinois. Sometimes students can go to Northern Michigan cheaper than they can go to a school in their state.

The lack of high school graduates in Michigan means that the universities are looking for out of state students to make up for it. For instance, one of Bridge’s charts shows that Michigan State University is admitting a higher percentage of the applicants they get from in the state than they did a decade ago. So when French is asked about the headline on the story “Is a Student from China taking my kids college slot?” He says the answer is no. French says your child has as good or a better chance of getting into a public university in Michigan. But “if you happen to be at a couple of universities, the chances of you sitting next to a child from Kalamazoo is less than your chances of sitting next to a kid from Beijing.”