It’s important that UNC-system schools have a global presence. But that presence shouldn’t include overseas campuses.
In 2008, N.C. State University began exploring the potential of having a satellite campus in South Korea’s Incheon Free Economic Zone — an area similar to the Research Triangle Park.
The South Korean government is building a university city in this zone and invited several American universities to have campuses there. South Korea granted N.C. State $1 million to look into the proposal.
The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported Friday that N.C. State is reconsidering how involved it will be in the project because of the complexity of an overseas campus.
That’s a valid concern. But UNC-system schools shouldn’t spend their time on overseas campuses at all.
International efforts are necessary. Programs like UNC’s joint undergraduate degree program with the National University of Singapore, renewed Tuesday, are an example of a good effort. But these don’t involve a satellite campus.
If NCSU moves forward, the South Korean government will cover many of the expenses. An NCSU press release from 2008 said that the university would only be responsible for maintenance and utilities.
That’s very generous of the Koreans. But UNC-system schools should be focusing solely on educating N.C. residents and select out-of-staters.
Projections for this campus placed its U.S. enrollment around 25 to 30 percent, with about 40 percent of students coming from Korea and 25 to 30 percent coming from other countries.
Those ratios would be OK for a private university, but public universities exist to educate their taxpayers, not residents of other countries.
NCSU officials have presented this campus as a way to further North Carolina’s ties with South Korea, extend NCSU’s presence abroad and give faculty new research opportunities.
Those are all admirable goals. But UNC-system schools need to remain focused on their core mission: educating residents of North Carolina. Prestige, research opportunities and economic ties should be seen as benefits of that goal, not driving forces.
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