UC Regents debate merits of increasing nonresident enrollment

Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a 2012 meeting of the UC Board of Regents at UCSF Mission Bay.
Kevin Foote/File
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].

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  • guest

    Out of state enrollment should, of course, increase. Berkeley is a global brand and desperately needs more geographic diversity. The average out of stater is much better academically as well – at least 100 points on the SAT. The tuition increase is a side benefit, not a main one. The key goal should be to assemble the strongest academic class possible.

  • Nedra

    When Gov Brown and Lt Gov Newson object the UC Regents budget as unrealistic, than we all know thats not a good sign for our students, families and taxpayers.

  • Calipenguin

    When Regents openly discuss the cash flow benefits of admitting more out of state and foreign students so soon after passage of Prop 30, that is a slap in the face of California voters who thought they were raising taxes to help California’s own students get greater access to higher education. Voters now associate higher taxes with less access. Gee, thanks Regents! I’m not surprised since many of us have been warning for months that Prop 30 is just a short term extortion scheme, but I’m just amazed how quickly the Regents started discussing selling admissions to the highest bidders after cheerleading for Prop 30. At least Brown has the political instinct to warn the Regents not to raise tuition so quickly.

    • guest

      Myopic. This is about getting the best students to Berkeley, regardless of origin. If Californians want more access, let them study harder. Our top public universities are a joke to get into relative to those of other nations.

  • californiagranma

    There seems to be a disconnect, how will California students be better prepared for a globalized workplace supposedly created by socializing with foreign students, if they are not present?

    • Alf

      California students should be exposed to a diversity of perspectives, right. But that means you can’t only bring the richest students from other places.

  • Guest

    Until maybe five years ago, the extra tuition paid by nonresidents was supposed to offset the cost that the state would pay for resident students (resident students got a subsidy from the state while nonresidents paid the full price). Now, the state funding has decreased by almost half in the last 5 years (it only represents 12% of Berkeley’s budget), yet the nonresident supplemental tuition remains the same!

    It is one thing to ask nonresidents to pay for the full cost of their education and not be a burden on the state, but now the UC asks them to pay extra so they subsidize the rest of the university.

    Nonresident students should pay the full cost of their education, not more and not less. Academic excellence, not the amount of revenue a student brings, should remain the primary factor of admission into the UC. Otherwise the academic quality of the institution can only go down.

    • I_h8_disqus

      Academic excellence isn’t the primary factor for admission to the UC. The primary factor is to help Californians get a quality education. Non-residents are admitted to allow the university to help with this primary factor. However, non-residents should not be looked at as a source of revenue, but should be looked at as providing diversity that will help the resident students to get a better education, while at the same time, non-residents get a great education too.

      I hate reading about Brown looking at non-residents as nothing more than revenue. You can just see his head just looking for ways to make money that he will eventually take away from the UC and spend on other programs.

      • guestq

        Academic excellence *should* be the primary factor for admission, to Berkeley at least.

        • I_h8_disqus

          I agree that it should be the primary factor for Cal. The diversity provided by the finest minds from around the country and the world would be a large boost to the quality of education. A great university would become even better.