State universities might have codified the practice of charging different tuition rates during the 1960s. Yes, there might have been some mercantilist logic, such as it is, at work, with the out of state matriculants being asked to bear the full cost (or as close as you can get to such a thing in an environment as rich in common and joint costs and flexible capacity as a university) whilst in-state applicants, the children of taxpayers who had kicked something in toward the university's operating costs, got a tuition break. Or perhaps it was because the local kids used to stay in state to work.
That's the rhetoric for conversation in polite society. The reality might have been less pretty: in Wisconsin, during the war protests, a legislator might be able to point to all those East Coast home addresses in the arrest reports, and all those Jewish-sounding names on the masthead of the Daily Cardinal. Raise the price, limit the intake of outside agitators.
But somehow the leftist rhetoric didn't stop coming out of the universities, and the next legislative step might well have been to defund the left by reducing appropriations (which turns into worsened working conditions for faculty, and an etiolated learning experience) and a rediscovery of the willingness of people to pay full freight as long as it's still cheaper than Harvard. But that turns the public universities into gated communities. "'When you grow the share of out-of-state students, you’re making the student body richer, more white and Asian and less black and Latino,' said one of the study’s co-authors, Ozan Jaquette, an assistant professor of education at U.C.L.A." And the mercantilist logic gets turned on its head. Which provokes the editorial board of The Badger Herald to complain about the rich out-of-staters taking over, but this time it's the social life, not the war protests.
Instead of increasing enrollment by targeting low-income and underrepresented Wisconsin students, UW now joins the ranks of public institutions that are happy with increasing the — already substantial — socioeconomic divide on campus. Making UW a bougie playground for the greater Chicagoland area is not the way to keep Wisconsin a world-class institution.There's nothing new about the political economy of rich out-of-state students; what is different now compared to fifty years ago is the way in which the presence of the out-of-state students is somehow contrary to the state's interests.
Increasing out-of-state enrollment in a time when Wisconsin residents need the education and services of the university more than ever is a disservice to students, faculty, staff and the state. Increasing the divide between those who have and those who have-not at UW will only reinforce Coastie and Sconnie stereotypes until campus becomes the caricatures it derides.