In an ethnically themed shopping center called Plaza Mexico just south of Los Angeles, a public university from the Mexican state of Colima has planted its flag.
Alongside the shopping center’s stores and taquerias, the University of Colima offers mostly remedial education in reading, writing and math to about 100 Mexican immigrants. But a handful of students here are preparing to take their final exams for Mexican degrees, just one of several recent efforts by Mexican universities to branch into providing full-fledged university educations in the United States.
“It’s important for at least one university to pursue this,” said Ana Uribe, a University of Colima professor who runs the Lynwood branch.
In fact, several Mexican universities are considering stepping in to offer accredited university classes in California and other states primarily to serve an immigrant population that lags far behind others in college education.
California, where public universities have been dealing with deep budget cuts and enrollment limits, probably will be the principal target of Mexican universities. There’s a huge market in the state, where Latinos account for more than 52 percent of public school students who’ll eventually be college-aged. A quarter of elementary-school students nationwide are Hispanic, the Pew Research Center reports.