In an effort to find additional revenue for the cash-strapped UNC system, UNC Board of Governor’s member and former State Representative, Bill Dautridge wants international students to pay higher tuition. Dautridge contends that since international students pay no state or federal taxes, North Carolinians are providing significant subsidies to such students (See news article).
Dautridge raises a ticklish though interesting point. UNC campuses enroll over 4,000 international students. However the reality is many of those students are concentrated in graduate programs in the sciences and engineering. A simple review of the largest graduate engineering programs in the UNC system over the last decade show international students comprise in some cases between 40 -50 percent of graduate enrollments.
Since graduate programs in engineering require significant capital investment, large subsidies are involved. So I think Dautridge’s question should be on the table. However the former legislator’s comments point to yet another issue. Many UNC campuses seem more than happy to have international students fill our graduate programs. Yet, does it make sense to incur all the expense of educating these students when our laws make it virtually impossible for many of them – who oftentimes graduate with highly marketable skills – to gain employment in this country? Hopefully, Dautridge’s comments will spur this discussion as well. It’s much needed.