Richard Edwards told police that when he left his morning class in philosophy at Northern Virginia Community College's Alexandria campus yesterday he found the front tires of his car slashed and an obscene message referring to President Reagan on his windshield.

Edwards, 28, said he believes the vandalism was a a political response to the two blue "Reagan-Bush '84" bumper stickers on his car, which was parked in the student parking lot.

Dean of Student Development Jack Popeck said he apologized on behalf of the college to Edwards, a political science major who is from England. "I think it's deplorable, first that it could happen at all, in any location, and second that it would happen in a place whose very existence is predicated on free inquiry and expression," Popeck said.

The incident took place on a campus that is "not particularly political" Popeck added. There are no political student groups on the campus and the only election-related activities at the school during the presidential campaign has been voter registration, he said.

Popeck said he had asked campus security police to intensify their surveillance of the lot where Edwards' car was parked.

Alexandria police took a report on the incident, a police spokeswoman said.

Edwards, who has been in this country two years, said he was unable to match the remaining good tires on his car and so spent $320 to replace all four the tires on his car.