INTERNATIONAL BERKELEY: Enrolling International Students Yesterday and Today, Debates on the Benefits of Multicultural Diversity, and Macro Questions on Access and Equity
INTERNATIONAL BERKELEY: Enrolling International Students Yesterday and Today, Debates on the Benefits of Multicultural Diversity, and Macro Questions on Access and Equity by John Aubrey Douglass CSHE.3.14 (March 2014)
The argument that cultural and other forms of diversity enhance the educational experience of all students is generally associated largely with post-1960 efforts to expand the presence of disadvantaged groups on the campuses of America’s universities and colleges. Yet, in the case of UC Berkeley, debates on the merits of cultural diversity have much earlier roots in the historical enrollment of international students. Debates in the late 1800s and early twentieth century revolved around the appropriateness of enrolling foreign students, particularly those from Asia. The result was an important intellectual discussion on the merits of diversity that was eventually reframed to focus largely on underrepresented domestic students. In this short essay, I discuss how the notion of diversity, and its educational benefits, first emerged as a value at UC Berkeley. I then briefly discuss the significant increase of international students at UC Berkeley and other public universities. Thus far, the primary impetus of this increase has been mostly financial—Berkeley has faced significant public disinvestment, seeks new revenue sources, and can charge international students tuition rates similar to elite private colleges and universities. By targeting 20 percent of all undergraduates as international or out-of-state (US-resident non-Californians)—the majority international—the Berkeley campus is essentially diversifying its student body. How does having more globally inclusive enrollment fit into our contemporary ideas of diversity? I attempt a brief discussion of this question and the policy challenges generated by the dramatic increase in international students at the undergraduate level at Berkeley and other UC campuses, including access for Californians.