UC Board of Regents approve nonresident student enrollment cap, discuss state audit of UCOP

Daniel Kim/Senior Staff

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During its Thursday open-session meeting, the UC Board of Regents voted to approve a cap on out-of-state and international student enrollment and discussed at length the findings of a state audit of the University of California Office of the President.

Most of the board voted in support of the establishment of the nonresident student enrollment policy, with Regents Hadi Makarechian and Gareth Elliott voting in opposition.

Beginning in fall 2018, university campuses will be capped at 18 percent nonresident student enrollment, unless their 2017-18 undergraduate student body already has a rate exceeding that level. For those campuses, which would include UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Irvine, nonresident enrollment would be capped at no more than their levels of nonresident enrollment in the 2017-18 year.

“This is an important and complex issue,” said Regent John Pérez, who voted to approve the cap. “It is the product of a more deliberative, more consultative, more engaged work. I will support it because I think it represents very good work and a move in the right direction.”

UCOP Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom said at the meeting the cap was being proposed due to state funding for the university being reliant upon the passage of such a policy.

The California Budget Act of 2016 contains a provision which requires the university to “adopt a policy that specifies a limit on the number of nonresident students enrolled” as a condition of receiving $18.5 million in state funding.

“I don’t understand why we’re doing this to foreign students … we’re building a wall around the University of California,” Makarechian said at the meeting.

Campus community members also reacted to the passage of the nonresident enrollment cap.

ASUC External Affairs Vice-President Rigel Robinson, who is also an out-of-state UC Berkeley student, said in a Facebook message that “when only around 10% of the UC’s funding comes from the state, the state can’t claim to be entitled to capping nonresident enrollment at 18%.”

Robinson added in a Facebook message that nonresident students were valuable because of the diverse perspectives and experiences they bring to campuses.

Taehan Lee, an ASUC Senator-elect and UC Berkeley international student, called the regents’ decision to establish a nonresident student enrollment cap “disappointing.”

“Seeing the results, it’s clear the majority of regents have no agenda to support the needs of international and out-of-state students at UC campuses,” Lee said. “If the university continues to go down this route, the institution might be exclusive to Californians, which limits the potential of this university.”

Board chair Monica Lozano also facilitated a discussion of the findings of a state audit of UCOP earlier in the day.

California State Auditor Elaine Howle presented to the board a summary of her office’s report, which raised a series of concerns regarding UCOP budget expenditures, systemwide presidential initiatives, UCOP staffing operations, and the alleged interference of campus audit survey responses by UCOP.

“This is not an audit of the president. This is an audit of the process — the Office of the President,” Howle said at the meeting. “I’m not here to critique her leadership. I’m here to review processes.”

Howle also highlighted recommendations her report makes for UCOP, with a staggered plan for implementation from 2018-20.

UC President Janet Napolitano said at the meeting that UCOP plans on fully implementing all 33 of Howle’s recommendations for the office, calling the recommendations “constructive.”

Ifechukwu Okeke, a campus junior transfer student who attended the Thursday meeting, reflected on the audit discussion.

“I hope the media covers today’s conversations … including the state auditor’s report and the very direct questions asked,” Okeke said. “The question should be — why was the public so quick to accept the explanation that regents or the president did something wrong?”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.