MACKINAC ISLAND — On Thursday, University President Mary Sue Coleman said she’d like to see more out-of-state students attend Michigan universities.

Coleman said the institutions should recruit out-of-state students as a way to support the state’s economy and universities.

“As a state, if you look at all 15 universities, we are underperforming in terms of our out-of-state student population,” Coleman said. “We have capacity, and these students come paying the full freight. They actually add tremendously to the economy of the state of Michigan.”

In the winter 2012 semester, 37 percent of the more than 26,000 undergraduate students enrolled at the University hailed from outside of Michigan. Last year, out-of-state tuition started at $18,794, compared to $6,220 for a Michigan resident.

Coleman’s remarks came on the third and final day of the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel. Coleman joined Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Company; Mike Jandernoa, former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Perrigo; and Hans-Werner Kaas, senior partner and director of McKinsey & Company, on the panel.

The session, which focused on strategies to spur economic growth in the state, was sponsored by Business Leaders for Michigan, a group comprised of top executives at Michigan businesses and universities, including Coleman and the other panelists.

Coleman said the state’s 15 public universities should work to replicate the success of Silicon Valley in California by encouraging students to pursue entrepreneurship and take risks. She added that students shouldn’t be afraid to take risks, saying it’s OK to fail and learn from mistakes.

“We are, in many ways, in the infancy of doing this, but we have made a lot of progress,” Coleman said about encouraging entrepreneurship.

In recent years, the University has created numerous programs to fund startup firms, including the TechArb student incubator and the Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups program that grants money to faculty startups.

Ford said Michigan universities should emulate schools such as Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley and continue to push students toward entrepreneurship.

“Venture capitalists swarm (Silicon Valley) to find new ideas,” Ford said. “Michigan must match this intensity to ensure the next generation of transportation technologies develop in Michigan.”

Coleman said the University’s role in revitalizing the state’s manufacturing industries is key. She reiterated points made in the study released by the University Research Corridor this week that reported that the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University graduated more than 3,600 students who entered auto industry-related jobs in the past five years.

“I see so clearly the relationship between robust investment in higher education and economic development,” Coleman said.

Similarly, Ford said young people’s perception of the auto industry has changed, and graduating students are more interested in entering manufacturing and the auto industry now than they were five or six years ago.

“Behind the investment banks and the tech world, we were the last person they wanted to hear from. There was a condescending attitude toward the auto industry, and manufacturing in general,” he said. “Boy, has that changed.”

Ford also said the automaker opened an office in Silicon Valley in January to reach out to entrepreneurs and to be closer to technology firms that produce devices that are becoming larger parts of vehicle interfaces.

He added that he traveled to California to visit the office and met the first employee to work there — a Stanford grad who was “exactly the type of young person we were looking for” because he was able to apply the entrepreneurial spirit to traditional businesses like the auto industry.

“Frankly, the young people today are working on problem solving,” Ford said. “So many of the problems that they’re solving come back to industry.”

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