California Assembly committees convene for hearing on UC admission, enrollment trends

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Two California State Assembly committees convened Wednesday for an informational hearing on UC admission and enrollment trends and the implications of increasing nonresident enrollment.

The joint hearing between the California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education and the Subcommittee on Education Finance was intended to provide an opportunity for the University of California to brief the two bodies on its intent to meet enrollment growth requirements made in the proposed 2015-16 budget.

The budget provides the university with an additional $25 million in funding, contingent on the university’s intent to enroll 5,000 more resident students by the 2016-17 academic year.

“In this post-recession era, we’re looking to continue to reinvest in higher education … but we need to know this is a partnership with the state of California and the UC system so we can focus on providing more resources,” said committee chair and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, at the hearing.

Some, however, have been skeptical that the university will be able to meet this requirement.

Robert Samuels, a UC Santa Barbara lecturer who spoke at the hearing, and UC Student Association President Kevin Sabo, who was also present, both said they do not believe the university will meet the requirements outlined in the agreement.

In recent months, UC spokesperson Dianne Klein has said the framework does not provide funding to sustain consistent enrollment growth, even with the additional $25,000.

Furthermore, Samuels said that because funding from nonresident tuition is not distributed across the UC system, per-student funding on various campuses is becoming more unbalanced.

“The UC has a very large financial incentive to continue to increase the number of nonresident students and not increase the students from California,” Samuels said.

Out-of-state students do not crowd out California students, according to Stephen Handel, associate vice president of undergraduate admissions at the UC Office of the President, who explained current admission and enrollment trends at the hearing.

The state provides the university with a certain amount of money to subsidize in-state students, Handel said, and the university fills as many spots with resident students as state funding allows. Nonresidents, he said, fund their own cost of education.

Sabo explained that speakers at the hearing said less selective campuses are expected to carry the brunt of increasing enrollment, while campuses such as UC Berkeley and UCLA have higher nonresident enrollment.

Many in-state applicants who applied to the UC system were referred to less selective campuses, such as UC Merced, even if they didn’t apply to those specific campuses, according to the hearing agenda.

During the hearing, the university was “grilled” about its enrollment of in-state students and lack of enrollment of underrepresented-minority students, according to Sabo.

“The Legislature is not very happy with the UC, pretty much,” Sabo said.

Suhauna Hussain is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @suhaunah.