How UVa Compares to Other Flagship Universities in Out-of-State Enrollment


There’s a special burden upon state flagship universities to acquit themselves well in the national rankings — the university reflects upon the state as a whole. Thus, the high esteem in which Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia, among others, are held casts a warm glow upon California, Virginia, and Michigan.

The ranking methodology for the U.S. News & World-Report “Best Colleges in America” puts a premium on average SAT scores. Enlarging the pool of out-of-state students enables an institution to recruit more high-SAT students. As a bonus, out-of-state students pay higher tuition than in-state students. But filling up the student body with out-of-staters conflicts with the mission of public institutions to serve the population of the state supporting them with taxpayer dollars. What’s a university president to do?

The Washington Post took at look at the flagship institutions of the 50 states to see what percentage of out-of-state students they admitted. At the bottom, the University of Vermont admitted only 21% of its students from within the state in the fall of 2016. At the opposite extreme, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks admitted 89% in-staters.

Of course, here at Bacon’s Rebellion, we’re most interested in the University of Virginia. UVa admitted 66% in-state students, an increase of 3 percentage points from the previous year. That was a middle-of-the-pack performance compared to other flagships.

For purposes of comparison, only 51% of University of Michigan students were native Michiganders. On the other hand, Berkeley managed to maintain its high ranking with 76% in-staters, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with 83%.

Conversely, one can look at a flagship’s ability to recruit out-of-state students as a positive. Talent comes from all around the country, all around the globe, and many of the 34% of out-of-staters recruited by UVa end up staying here in Virginia. Looking at the percentage from an economic development perspective, this might be the number we’d like to see grow.

(Hat tip: Peter Blake)

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4 responses to “How UVa Compares to Other Flagship Universities in Out-of-State Enrollment

  1. There is absolutely no freaking “special burden” on state universities to acquit themselves well on bull&4*& rankings published in fake news magazines or in self-serving educational publications. Their job is to provide a first rate educational opportunity to the young people of that state, undergrad and professional level, and to be magnets for research. That is their job – and that is the only measurement that matters. That is why they take my tax dollars and one of them gets an annual supplemental check from my personal funds.

    Yes, there is value in including some students from elsewhere and many of them do end up staying in Virginia. But looking at that list, those schools with tiny percentages of in-state students aren’t flagships for anything. UNC, now that’s a flagship, with that in-state percentage! And look at Berkeley! Good for them. And BTW, who elected Mr. Jefferson’s preppie academy the state flagship anyway? Didn’t get my vote! 🙂

  2. So the scion of Richmond goes to UVa and with his connections and his credentials ends up doing investment banking in NYC, and somehow raises a family in Manhattan, but wants his kid to drink from the same trough in Charlottesville? What does “out of State” mean anyway?

  3. In theory – “out of state” has to do with how much “in-state” taxpayers pay to support their own offspring’s education… I suppose….. and CLEARLY some states take that more seriously than others and they do fund their in-state kids at higher rates and allocate more slots to in-state.

  4. I attended the University of Michigan as an in-state student just after the last ice-age. At that time many people on the east coast felt that it provided the equivalent of an ivy-league education at a fraction of the cost. As a mid-westerner from a medium-size city, I enjoyed being around other students who had been exposed to a much wider variety of life experiences than I had. I considered it a valuable part of my education.

    A high-school classmate went to MIT. My grades and SATs were better than his, but I did not think the difference in education was equivalent to the multiples of difference in cost.

    My oldest son obtained his engineering degree from Michigan as an out of state student seventeen years ago. His annual costs were maybe up to 15-times more than what I had paid (not corrected for inflation).

    As the state of Michigan’s economy shrank with the decline of the auto industry, I’m sure the state contribution to U of M declined as well. Much of the University’s reputation came from its highly regarded graduate schools: medicine, law, dentistry, business, etc. They probably saw that out-of-state students were grist for that mill. The world class hospital complex and the R&D conducted in the various graduate schools probably contribute a much higher percentage of the school’s budget than do undergraduates today.

    I dislike the “pay to get ratings” game that many schools believe they must participate in. But our current time puts more emphasis on perception than reality, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that our major educational institutions are following the lead of government and business.

    As the boomers retire, we might find that those we expect to replace them have not received an education that was as deep or as broad as those they intend to replace.

    We must examine what the objective of a university education is. Is it to delay entry into the work-force as it was decades ago? Is it to get our young people deep in debt so they will be compliant to what is being asked of them? Is it to train them for a job? That is not usually what occurs with a university education, unless running the gauntlet of gaining a baccalaureate degree from a major university shows tenacity, perseverance, and ability to plod through the requisite B.S. indicates the qualities required of a modern corporate worker.

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