UT chancellor hopes to increase out-of-state student numbers

Students graduate from UT-Austin at spring 2017 commencement. (KXAN Photo)
Students graduate from UT-Austin at spring 2017 commencement. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven wants to increase the number of out-of-state students attending UT Austin, he said Thursday at an event held by KXAN media partner Texas Tribune.

“The question is do we have the right balance here in Texas?” McRaven said to Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith. “I would offer that we could probably increase the out of state [students] by another 5 percent.”

Under the Texas Education Code, Section 51.803 subsection (j) UT Austin is required to cap the number of out-of-state and international students admitted at 10 percent.  J.B. Bird with UT Austin Media Relations explained that UT Austin is the only university held by this cap because it is part of the modification to state law which allowed UT Austin to admit 75 percent of its undergraduate freshman class automatically and 25 percent under holistic admissions.

Jenny LaCoste-Caputo with the University of Texas System confirmed that this 10 percent cap does not apply to other UT System universities and that Chancellor McRaven wants to see the legislature consider taking the cap up to 15 percent.

McRaven said Thursday that he believes bringing in more out-of-state students would increase revenue as well as academic competition.

“If you continue to see decrements in state appropriations, you’ve gotta create revenue somehow,” McRaven said.

Under the 2017-2018 rates, undergraduate students from Texas pay between $4,957 and $5,696 per semester while out-of-state students pay between $17,645 and $20,224 per semester — meaning that out-of-state students pay well over three times more than the rate that their Texas classmates do.

McRaven also expressed concern over the impacts of another enrollment related law, the “top 10 percent rule,” which requires all state schools in Texas to admit the top tenth of all graduating high school classes as freshmen.

“Well what we certainly see is a brain drain for some of our high school candidates, that decide to go elsewhere when they can’t go to UT Austin in particular,” McRaven told Smith at the Tribune event. He explained that many of these strong Texas students may look at competitive schools out of state if they are not admitted to UT Austin.

He noted that California public university systems have had success in boosting revenue and quality of students by increasing numbers of out-of-state students.

“But at the same time, we have an obligation, to educate the young men and women of Texas,” McRaven said. “That is our first and foremost obligation and we can never lose sight of that.”

UT Austin student Emma Hughes is from Illinois, she hopes UT Austin does increase the number of out-of-state students on campus. KXAN photo/ Alyssa Goard.
UT Austin student Emma Hughes is from Illinois, she hopes UT Austin does increase the number of out-of-state students on campus. (KXAN Photo/Alyssa Goard)

Emma Hughes, a rising senior from Illinois at UT Austin, said she would like to see more out-of-state students on campus.

“I think that’s super important because not only is diversity important from the different high schools [UT is] pulling from in Texas, I think it’s a really important element to pull from different states, because you learn so much from people who grew up in different environments from you,” Hughes said.

She admitted that the out of state tuition rate has been tough on her family, but she feels fortunate that her family has been able to afford her education. Hughes believes the cost of tuition is worthwhile to attend one of the top programs in the country for communications and marketing.

Hughes hopes that if the number of out-of-state students increases, that those students are also able to receive more scholarships. She’s noticed that she is more sensitive in discussions about tuition increases than her Texas peers.

“I’m kind of wondering is there a middle ground where we could better attract out-of-state students with scholarships or help with the financial burden, because it’s a lot to pay for tuition but also to live in Austin which can get kind of expensive,” Hughes said.

“I feel like if we grow our [out-of-state student] population a little more and have more groups or events specifically targeted towards out-of-state students, we can create more of a community there and increase competition from students applying from out-of-state, and show that UT will welcome them as well,” she said.

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