UC Regents debate merits of increasing nonresident enrollment

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Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a 2012 meeting of the UC Board of Regents at UCSF Mission Bay.

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SAN FRANCISCO — At the second day of their three-day meeting Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents and various UC administrators debated the merits of adopting a formal policy to increase the enrollment of out-of-state students at the system’s nine undergraduate campuses.

UC administrators proposed increasing the percentage of nonresident enrollment — which is currently 8.8 percent systemwide — in order to boost revenue to make up for decreased state funding. However, their suggestion was met with heated responses from some officials who argued that the increase would limit access to the system for California residents.

Student Regent Jonathan Stein voiced his opposition to what he called “clustering” of out-of-state students at the larger UC campuses, including UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego.

This fall, 24 percent of UC Berkeley’s incoming freshman class consisted of nonresident students, as did just over 30 percent of UCLA’s freshman class. But only about 8.3 percent of UC Davis’ freshman class consisted of nonresident students and only 4.5 percent of UC Riverside’s freshman class were nonresident.

Increasing the systemwide cap for nonresident students would cause a drastic decrease in Californian’s admittance to the top-ranking UC campuses, he said, adding that he would not be opposed to increasing nonresident enrollment “as long as we can manage where the out-of-state students are going instead of threatening access to UC Berkeley and UCLA.”

Because each nonresident student pays close to an additional $23,000 in supplemental tuition fees, the 16,000 nonresident students systemwide provide $407 million in annual revenue to the university.

“For every thousand nonresidents, you could have $23 million,” said Gov. Jerry Brown, an ex officio regent, to the board Wednesday. “That’s a great, tempting source of money.”

Currently, there is a limit to that source — a cap of 10 percent on nonresident undergraduate enrollment systemwide.

But some members of the board, including regents Eddie Island and Frederick Ruiz, said increasing the nonresident cap was a problematic solution to the university’s budget deficit as it could compromise the role of the university as a public institution primarily for California residents.

Supporters of the proposed increase pointed to the university’s ability to enroll more in-state students due to the extra revenue brought in from enrolling more out-of-state students. According to UC Executive Vice President for Business Operations Nathan Brostrom, last year enrollment of California residents at the UC increased by 1 percent.

“The question is, does the policy of admitting (out-of-state) students impact the (overarching) policy of admitting students to the UC?” said William Jacob, vice chair of the UC Academic Senate, to the board. “And the answer is, at the moment, it does not.”

UC President Mark Yudof also argued for the social benefits of international students — who made up 48 percent of last year’s class of nonresidents — saying that foreign students create a wider network of connections for UC students and better prepare California students for a globalized workplace.

“We’re in a global environment competing for talent worldwide.” said Yudof. “Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego are as much global universities as local universities.”

Contact Shirin Ghaffary at [email protected].