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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Policy prices foreign students out of the market

By Amy Agronis on November 15, 2004 in University

Dear Editor:

I was distressed by your recent glowing coverage of the new nonresident tuition policy (Dateline, Oct. 1), a policy rejected by the Academic Senate. Were you really unable to interview even one critic?

The administration is attempting to solve a real problem by extracting money from faculty grants. But the money is simply not there. Far from helping our international students, the administration is pricing them out of the market.

Under the new policy, hiring an international student would cost me $47,000 a year, making a half-time, inexperienced student more expensive than a full-time, experienced postdoc. We are exhorted to remember our teaching mission. But my grant is explicitly for research. Does the administration consider it ethical to ask me to divert funds from their intended purpose to a far less efficient use?

Some in our administration honestly think that if we explain our need for extra funding, the money will materialize. In the real world, the House has recently voted budget cuts for the NSF, NASA and most other research funding agencies; DOE had been discussing 5 percent across-the-board cuts; even the NIH, Congress' favorite, faces a flat budget (see http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/). The notion that these agencies will cut someone else's research budget to help us pay nonresident tuition is pure fantasy.

The faculty have pleaded for flexibility, allowing departments the option of continuing to pay nonresident tuition directly. Instead, we are offered an all-or-nothing policy. Whatever the intentions, in practice our administration has hung a sign on our lab doors: "No foreigners welcome.''

-- Steven Carlip, professor of physics

Media contact(s)

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932, abagronis@ucdavis.edu

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