The University of Connecticut’s goal is pretty clear from just its name. It’s a university meant to output research and serve the residents of Connecticut. On the research end, this means bolstering its faculty’s reputation and attracting graduate students who will put out good work in their time here. In serving the residents, UConn’s goal is to provide a competitive, high-caliber school that works as a good option to receive higher education for Connecticut residents.
So, how is it doing on these goals? Research output is just fine. UConn has many respectable graduate programs and a star-studded cast of professors and students putting in work. In terms of its commitment to the state, though, there is reasonable suspicion that the goals of the administration here lie elsewhere.
Public universities often have quotas on the proportion of out-of-state students admitted. This is to ensure they mainly serve as a state-serving institution. The problem with this is that out-of-state students make a lot more money for the university. When including room and board, in-state students pay less than $30,000 per year, over $20,000 less than out-of-state students.
So, it is little surprise that there would be pressure to take more out-of-state students. And in UConn’s case specifically, it seems to be caving. One-third of the incoming freshman at Storrs do not hail from Connecticut at all this year. This is not a problem in itself, though, especially as out-of-state application numbers keep growing.
The way that UConn attempts to free up room for this subset, however, is a little dirtier. Being the main campus, Storrs is the most attractive campus for most students. In fact, many students who go to the main campus would not be if they were instead “relegated” to one of the four regional campuses across the state. This rings more true for out-of-state students, who can’t take the cost benefit into account that many in-state students do.
Through this lens, we can then compare. About a quarter of in-state undergraduates attend a regional campus, while less than one out of 20 out-of-state undergrads are not at Storrs. That is a staggering difference, and it should be a concerning one. After all, “main campus” is not just a meaningless title. Students at the main campus have easier access to faculty, resources and opportunities. Should UConn be pushing Connecticut students away from these resources as so
It is reasonable to believe there are entities at UConn consciously making this shift. After all, Connecticut has shown that it is uneasy about supporting UConn to the fullest, so it would make sense for the university to look elsewhere for revenue. Intentional or not, though, this change is worth considering by people across the board in the decision-making process. UConn’s best, most well-known qualities are its value and fairness to Connecticut students, and it has a lot to risk by losing that reputation.