I know I’m getting into hot water delving into this area, but someone has to say it: the children of New York taxpayers should get priority to our state universities over foreign students.
When I was an elected official, I spoke out against illegal immigration and the impact it has on our schools, neighborhoods, hospitals and criminal justice system.
Even though I was a strong supporter of diversity and legal immigration, many in the media and the left were quick to erroneously paint such views are xenophobic, nativist, bigoted, etc.
Total nonsense, of course, but such a backlash deters others from saying it like it is.
I imagine that is why we have seen such little attention focused on a growing problem within our state university system – the fact that our kids are finding it tougher to get into our state financed colleges, in part, because they are now competing to the greatest extent ever with foreign students for limited coveted seats.
I can imagine the names I’ll be called for raising this issue. Once again, it won’t be pretty, but someone has to have the guts to say it.
This year, 20 percent of the spots of our taxpayer subsidized seats at SUNY Stony Brook will be given to students from other countries. Since 2000, there has been a 72 percent increase in foreign students nationwide.
I’m all for a diverse campus. Student should go to college not only to learn math, science and English lit, but also to experience cultures and people they may not have been exposed to. It makes for an all-around better student, person and citizen.
But there are plenty of minorities in New York who would relish that seat. An African American from Gordon Heights, a Hispanic American from Huntington, a Muslim-American from Selden, a Chinese-American from Smithtown, an Indian-American from Babylon. And don’t forget about the middle class White student from Port Jeff who desires admission. Regardless of one’s race or ethnicity, these seats should first and foremost be for the kids of the taxpayers who pay through the nose to maintain the state university system.
I could not care less if a private college chooses to reserve 75 percent of it seats for foreigners. That’s their right, as long as they don’t rely on taxpayers for subsidies. But when a school is designed to give local kids a decent, affordable education, we should not be taking measures that make it so competitive that the average kid down the block can’t get access to the schools.
There is certainly a difference between a local community college and university, the latter which would have higher standards. Even state universities must be somewhat competitive to maintain a rating that is attractive. But let’s not forget why the state university system was created in the first place – to give our kids an accessible education close to home.
Yes, foreign students pay more money, but so what? The purpose of SUNY is not to maximize profits. If that were the case, close them down, because the system is hugely expensive (but worth it if it is truly for our in-state students).
God bless those students from other nations who want to study at American universities. More power to them – so long as it’s at a private institution. Taxpayer funded schools should be for the children of our taxpayers.
Let the name-calling begin.
Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive, as a NYS Assemblyman, and host of “The Steve Levy Radio Show.”