Minnesota’s Foreign Money

Some members of the University of Minnesota community are concerned about the way the institution is treating its foreign students. They’ve got a point, because international students are actually very important to the school’s finances.

According to an article by Jill Jensen in the Minnesota Daily, the student newspaper of the University of Minnesota:

Despite the recent influx of international students at the University of Minnesota, resources like composition classes and student services have not been able to keep up with demand.

[Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert] McMaster said there is concern among some colleges about resources available for international student success. “They’re concerned that they don’t have the resources in place to make sure that the learning is as good for international students as it is for domestic students,” he said.

Due to the significant increase in international students, there are not enough sections of the non-native English composition course, said Sheryl Holt, writing coordinator for non-native speakers of English.

About 8 percent of the student body comes from other countries. “The number of international students at the University has quintupled since five years ago, with about 2,350 students enrolled in fall 2011,” Jensen writes.

That “has quintupled” is interesting here. The passive voice covers over the fact that the number of international students doesn’t just increase on its own; it reflects a deliberate choice of the institution.

Foreign students, after all, pay full tuition. They don’t enjoy the reduced rate of Minnesota residents, and they don’t require financial aid. A freshman from Minneapolis pays $11,650 a year in tuition. A freshman from Mian Yang pays $16,650 a year. That’s the only reason Minnesota is so eager to admit them, even though they can’t, apparently, speak English very well.

There are about 500 international students waiting to get into the composition class. The university apparently declined to offer more sections of non-native English composition course due to budget constraints.

There certainly are budget constraints (this is exacerbated by a particular agreement in the Midwest such that out-of-state students from Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota can attend Minnesota schools at the same rate as Minnesota students; even most of the out-of-state students pay in-state fees) but the whole reason for the international students is to help alleviate those budget problems.

If the college admits certain students to pay for the rest of the institution, the very least it can do is provide them with the services they need to succeed there. They’re real students who are there to learn; they’re not just a revenue line in the Minnesota budget.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer