A state Assembly member introduced a bill this month that would cap the nonresident student population of each UC campus at 10 percent.
The bill, AB 1370, does not appear to affect nonresident students currently attending UC campuses that exceed the proposed 10 percent nonresident cap. Instead, those campuses would be prohibited from expanding their enrollment of nonresident students. Nonresident students make up an increasingly large amount of the UC student body.
The bill’s introduction comes after last week’s announcement by UC President Janet Napolitano declaring a cap on nonresident enrollment for the upcoming fall semester at UC Berkeley and UCLA – the two UC campuses with the largest student bodies. Under the bill, UC campuses that do not comply with the cap would not receive state authorization for their students to receive financial aid. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2015-16 funding for the university depends on whether the university keeps nonresident enrollment flat.
“It’s an understandable concern of lawmakers that Californians aren’t having the same level of access to the University of California as in the past,” said John Douglass, senior research fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies of Higher Education.
He said, however, that increasing the percentage of California-resident students is unsustainable without additional state funding.
It used to be that when a campus took on a California-resident student, there was an agreement with the state that the state would in turn provide “a certain level of funding,” according to Douglass.
“There was a direct link between funding enrollment growth and access to Californians,” he said. “With the Great Recession and the current governor, it’s disappeared completely.”
Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside — who is chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education — introduced the bill. The bill would also set up a system in which revenues generated from nonresident students would be redistributed among the campuses.
“Assemblymember Medina would like to see enrollment of California residents increase. He believes increasing tuition on the backs of students is not the right direction to go,” said Ava Sanchez, Medina’s communications director, in an email, referencing the recent contentious tuition hike, which could be lowered by increased state funding. She added that Medina also supports increasing UC funding.
Universitywide, nonresidents made up 20.2 percent of students who signed statements of intent to register, or SIRs, for fall 2014 — up from 15.5 percent for fall 2012, according to the UC Academic Senate.
Data from the UC Office of the President show that nonresidents made up 29.8 percent of all students who signed SIRs for UC Berkeley for fall 2014. Nonresidents formed 30.1 percent of UCLA’s same incoming class.
UCOP currently has no official opinion on the legislation, as it has not finished reviewing the bill, according to UC spokesperson Shelly Meron.