“Policy be damned, research be damned”
Deupree, Mary Milan
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States have seen few recent issues regarding higher education as heated and controversial as that of legislation extending in-state college tuition to undocumented students. This multiple case study (NC, SC, GA) explores the “demand-side” of research utilization, examining the extent to which the policymaking environment impacts research use as state policymakers craft undocumented student tuition policies. It also explores the extent to which the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) explains the policy process. Findings suggest political factors largely trump research evidence. Furthermore, respondents indicate higher levels of research use in NC and GA, suggesting the policy environments in those states may more closely represent the ACF’s concept of a “professional forum,” where technical information is more likely to influence policy negotiations. At its core, however, state activity around undocumented student policies may most succinctly be explained by a commitment to maintaining social hierarchies.