State Assembly members introduce bill to limit UC enrollment of nonresident students

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A bill was introduced in the state Assembly on Tuesday that would cap the percentage of nonresident undergraduate students enrolled in the University of California at 15.5 percent.

AB 1711, introduced by Assemblymembers Jose Medina, D-Riverside, and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, would require the university to implement the 15.5 percent cap in order to receive state funds. In addition, it would prevent any campus currently composed of more than 15.5 percent out-of-state students from enrolling any new undergraduate nonresidents until July 2021.

In the fall, nonresident students made up 15.54 percent of all undergraduates in the university and 24.52 percent of UC Berkeley undergraduates. According to an email from UC spokesperson Claire Doan, the university’s enrollment of non-Californians, who pay higher tuition, helps make up for a lack of state funding.

“The increase in out-of-state enrollment coincided with budget cuts that related to the Great Recession,” said Hans Johnson, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. “Those out-of-state students help to provide funding for in-state students.”

AB 1711 comes after June budget negotiations between the university and the state, in which lawmakers granted the university $25 million contingent upon the university agreeing to enroll an additional 5,000 in-state students for the 2016-17 school year.

Because the state recently increased UC funding, McCarty said the university should respond by limiting nonresident enrollment and prioritizing that of in-state students, which he believes is the UC system’s primary responsibility.

“It’s called the University of California, it’s focused on serving Californians,” McCarty said. “But more and more, I think we’re rationing access to UC.”

Medina introduced a similar bill, AB 1370, to the state Assembly in February 2015. The bill aimed to cap nonresident UC enrollment at 10 percent but remains in the Committee on Education.

The university hopes to find a middle ground with the Assembly members, according to an email from Doan, who added that the “UC has a laser focus on increasing the number of California undergraduates in the system.”

According to Johnson, budget and enrollment disagreements between state lawmakers and UC administrators will remain a point of contention, but he advocated the enrollment of all students qualified to attend the university.

“It’s clear the best option is adequate funding for all UC-eligible students who apply,” Johnson said. “One solution to that would be increased state funding. … Another would be for UC to increase in-state fees.”

McCarty is optimistic about the future of AB 1711 — which will be eligible for hearings in the spring — and said it has already received positive support.

Maxwell Jenkins-Goetz covers higher education. Contact him at [email protected].