ATLANTA (AP) — The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech are fighting a proposal to make them favor in-state residents in early admissions, saying a state senator's proposal would degrade their ability to recruit top out-of-state students and maintain their national reputations.
Sen. Brandon Beach, an Alpharetta Republican, is pushing Senate Bill 282, which would require Georgia's four top universities to admit at least 90% Georgians during early admission periods. Beach said during a hearing Thursday that UGA and Georgia Tech are denying admission to too many high achieving students during their early admission periods, and too many are leaving the state.
"I just think that is unacceptable, that we're not taking our own bright (students) over someone from out of state," Beach told the Senate Higher Education Committee in a Thursday hearing. "We're spending $100,000, K through 12, educating our kids here, and then we're letting them to go out of state if they can't get in one of these two universities that they really want to go to."
It's an election-year bill aimed at the college anxieties of parents in Beach's affluent suburban district. Beach says the bill is about UGA and Georgia Tech, although it would also apply to Augusta University and Georgia State University. The state classifies those four schools as research universities.
The committee didn't vote on the bill, and it's unclear if it will resurface, considering the heavy opposition from UGA President Jere Morehead and Georgia Tech President Angel Cabrera.
"I'm not sure I see something broke that needs fixing," said state Sen. Nan Orrock, an Atlanta Democrat whose district includes much of the Georgia Tech campus.
The presidents said top-flight out-of-state students are key ingredients for excellence at their universities, and that the bill would also cost them tuition money the state collects from those students. Without non-Georgia residents, they warn the universities might be less attractive to the in-state students clamoring for admission.
"We will transform Georgia Tech into something else," Cabrera warned. "So that school that now all kids are dreaming to attend may not be there if we do this."
Today, 88% of undergraduates at UGA are from Georgia, while 61% at Georgia Tech are from in-state. But during early admission periods, the share of out-of-state students admitted is higher. The two presidents said the market for those students is intensely competitive, meaning they need to be locked in early. But Beach argued that the universities should prefer Georgia residents in early admissions, as they do in overall admissions.
"Our kids from Georgia have the right to make early plans too," Beach said.
Morehead and Cabrera said most Georgia students who don't get into their schools ultimately attend another public university in Georgia and some of those eventually transfer into UGA and Georgia Tech.
"There seems to be a misconception that we have a brain drain of in-state students if they receive a deferral of early admission," Morehead said.