Attracting more students from outside of Texas would give UT much-needed additional funds and enhance that spirit of cooperation and innovation that characterizes our university. Out-of-state students broaden our collective perspective by introducing new cultures and backgrounds from all over the world. And when that happens, the whole university benefits.
I still remember my first semester at UT and the culture shock I faced moving from Central California to Central Texas. People from my hometown were shy and reserved, but Austinites were loud and proud. My “everything’s bigger in Texas” epiphany came when I stood in the twenty-story shadow of US 183.
At times, I wondered how I could possibly fit in with my fellow Longhorns who were born and raised as Texans. It turned out not to matter. Today, some of my best friends are from Texas, but others are not. Some of my brightest colleagues are from Texas, while others hail from the East Coast. Every day, my interactions with Longhorns from all over the world expand my worldview and expose me to ways of thinking I never could have imagined.
According to Joey Williams with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, “one of the most valuable qualities of (our) campus is the diversity in perspectives, and the impact of that collective benefit.”
Indeed, today’s biggest challenges — the economy, climate change, Austin during rush hour — demand equally big solutions. Our only chance is to trust in each other. We are one student body and one community of Longhorns. Slowly but surely, our talents, skills, and ideas combine in one big melting pot, and we are all the better for it.
Increasing out-of-state enrollment would also raise revenues that can be reinvested into high-quality education for UT students. State aid to the UT system has decreased by 34 percent over the last decade alone, and attracting more nonresident residents — who pay over three times more tuition than Texas residents — might be the most mutually beneficial way to make up for the shortfall. The University of California uses the additional tuition paid by nonresidents — which comprise about 20 percent of its student body — to recruit faculty, reduce class sizes, and increase the amount of financial aid available to resident students.
When we embrace diversity, everyone wins. That’s the guiding principle behind UT’s top ten percent admissions rule, and raising the proportion of out-of-state students above 7 percent, ten percent (the current limit per state law), and beyond would make our community even stronger.
Members of the UT community and Texas legislature, please consider admitting more out-of-state students. Whether they hail from Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, or New York, Longhorns are more than just records in a database with a checkbox for “Texas resident.” We have dreams, goals, and visions that will change the world. And together — as one united student body — we will accomplish them.
Ryan Young is a computer science senior from Bakersfield, California. He is a senior columnist.