According to a report by Bloomberg, almost 200 freshmen from China enrolled in the University of California, San Diego, in 2011, up from 16 in 2009, making it a 12-fold increase. At the same time, the number of Asian-American Californians enrolled fell 29 percent to 1,230, from 1,723 in 2009.
The report added that in 2009, University of California administrators had told the San Diego campus to reduce its number of California freshmen by 500 to about 3,400 and fill the spots with out-of-state and international students. California residents pay an average of $13,234 in annual tuition while non-residents and foreigners pay $22,878.
Asian-Americans in particular suffer the most, due to the challenge of trying to distinguish themselves from other Asians coming from overseas. One in five international students in the US came from China in 2010-11, a 43 percent increase over the previous year. US colleges are also more inclined to tap the Chinese market for students takes to the rise in middle-class incomes in China that coincides with steep budget cuts at US universities.
Mitchell Chang, an education professor at UCLA, added that the existing admission policies at US colleges already handicap Asian-Americans who intend to further their education, due to their preferences for first-generation college students. For instance, a low-income Latino or African-American student is likely to be chosen for admission over a middle-income Asian-American whose parents went to college.
According to Patrick Callan, the president of the Higher Education Policy Institute, while some US universities do admit foreign students for legitimate educational reasons, these colleges may also be abdicating their responsibility to educate their own citizens.
At the same time, foreign students also believe that they are under unfair scrutiny by other students who think they’re only there because they pay more.
“They think ‘The foreign students, they admit some who are not fit, maybe they’re not good at academics,’” said Zijin Xiao, 20, a UC freshman from Shenzhen, China. “It makes me upset.”
Others though understand the trade-off made by the universities.
“I need the education and they need my money,” said Xiaojing Pang, 22, a communications major from Guangdong province.