Birgeneau condemns new legislation limiting out-of-state enrollment

Chris Chau/Staff

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Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has requested that a proposed piece of state legislation that could cap out-of-state student enrollment at UC campuses be withdrawn from consideration by the state Senate.

Birgeneau asked that Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, withdraw his proposed constitutional amendment — which would establish a 10 percent cap on out-of-state enrollment at each of the 10 UC campuses — stating that “at Berkeley capping the number at 10 percent would do irreparable harm to Californians.”

The amendment includes international students as out-of-state students — although the university differentiates between international and out-of-state students in its enrollment data — and would start with the 2013-14 freshman class. The amendment could be acted on by the state Senate as early as June 15 and would require a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

In a letter to Rubio, Birgeneau cited a shortfall in campus revenue, the elimination of the Middle Class Access Plan and an inability to provide financial aid for undocumented students as consequences of capping enrollment at UC Berkeley. The Middle Class Access plan caps the contributions of families earning $80,000 to $140,000 annually at 15 percent of their total income.

Birgeneau stated that by capping enrollment at 10 percent, California residents would not be able to graduate in four years due to a lack of resources and funding for campuses that is directly correlated with the tuition received from out-of-state students.

He also added that the loss of funding from nonresidents would lead to a reduction in funds available for financial aid generally provided to native Californian students, which could mean an increase for in-state tuition.

The university currently has a policy to limit out-of-state enrollment at 10 percent systemwide and was at 8.4 percent as of fall 2011. However, individual campuses like UC Berkeley and UCLA have higher nonresident enrollment figures, with undergraduate student enrollment at 18 percent at UC Berkeley and 14 percent at UCLA overall in fall 2011.

In his statement, Birgeneau also said that increasing the percentage of nonresident students to 20 percent of undergraduate enrollment would not lead to the elimination of admission slots for California residents at UC Berkeley.

According to preliminary UC Office of the President admissions data for 2012, approximately 3,690 nonresident students have been accepted to UC Berkeley this year, out of a total 13,038 students accepted to the campus in total.  Systemwide, approximately 18,846 nonresident students have been accepted to the UC out of a total 80,289 students.

However, UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said that admissions figures do not necessarily reflect enrollment figures because less out-of-state students may accept admission to the UC, allowing the university to still fall under its systemwide 10 percent cap.

Klein has also said the university is likely to oppose the amendment, although UC analysts have not yet completed their analysis of the legislation.

But Charlie Eaton, a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student and financial secretary for United Auto Workers Local 2865 — a union which represents nearly 12,000 graduate student instructors, readers and tutors — said he supports the amendment and increasing in state enrollment for lower income students.

“Chancellor Birgeneau’s position showed that he doesn’t care about declining enrollment for lower income students — especially for students of color and of the Latino community,” Eaton said. “Students are going to demand a change in direction towards in state enrollment and access for all California students.”

Eaton plans to attend the UC Board of Regents meeting in July with fellow union members to protest systemwide fee increases for students.

Anjuli Sastry is an assistant news editor.