Our Opinion: UMass shouldn't veer from its path

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While acknowledging the progress UMass has made as an institution, the Pioneer Institute believes it is heading in the wrong direction. We say, steady as she goes.

The Boston-based public policy research institute said in a report this month that UMass is shortchanging in-state students by accepting more out-of-state students. The latter students pay higher tuition which the institute maintains is fueling overly aggressive and unaccountable capital improvement programs at UMass' five campuses.

The university counters that 77 percent of its undergraduates come from Massachusetts, including 72 percent of the freshmen class. That is a healthy percentage, but beyond those numbers, any top university welcomes quality out-of-state students. No state school should become parochial, and students from other states, not to mention other countries, guard against this. Given the justifiable criticism UMass endured in the past for its declining infrastructure, it should be applauded for its ambitious efforts to improve its campuses.

In a statement, UMass President Martin Meehan asserted that Pioneer's agenda is "about protecting those private institutions in the state that want to charge more and deliver less than UMass does." Quality private institutions like Williams College have nothing to fear, and the others should raise their game. As for UMass, it is on the right path and shouldn't veer from it.


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