NBC12 Editorial: In-state quotas will limit Virginia's universities

By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Education Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Every year, some Virginia lawmakers work to find more seats for Virginia students in state colleges and universities.

This year's effort is House Bill #1696. The goal is to hold eight out of 10 seats for Virginians.

This would bring a big change to UVA, where slightly more than three students out of every 10 are from out of state.

William & Mary, JMU, Virginia Tech, VMI and Virginia State University also fall short of this standard.

What would be the cost to higher education in Virginia?

Is the charge of a university simply to equip young people with new skills and knowledge? Or does it also purport to help them address life's diversity and how it might be handled on a day-to-day basis? Some mix of other states and countries would certainly seem to provide this environment.

The University of Virginia has been ranked as the No. 1 public institution in America. Would it be afforded the same recognition as a "local" university?

From a financial perspective, this is an easy issue. The out-of-state students pay roughly three times the tuition of an in-state student. Virginia has even recognized this cost-saving principle by giving a voucher to each in-state student who attends a private university.

As for quotas, it's ironic that some of those argue to require an 80 percent in-state acceptance to UVA, William & Mary and Tech would be outraged by contrived limits applied to other admissions policies.

When writing legislation to set admissions on the standards for higher education in Virginia, perhaps a look at funding, programs and quotas should also include the reality that the governor appoints and the legislature confirms each trustee.

Trustees, in turn, hire highly-qualified administrators who run the day-to-day operation of their complex organizations.

Maybe we should let them set policies that reflect the needs of their students and institutions.

If you would like to respond to this editorial, please leave a comment below.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.