U California System suggests 20% ceiling on non-resident enrollment

Dive Brief:

  • A 20 percent cap on out-of-state undergraduate students has been proposed for the University of California System, following months of protest by parents in the state who feel their children have been shut out of the schools their tax dollars fund, The Mercury News reported.
  • Legislators in the state threatened to withhold more than $18 million from the flagship system if leaders did not put a cap on out-of-state enrollment, after a state audit found in-state students were being hurt by the 16.5 percent non-resident enrollment. A spokeswoman for the college told the Associated Press that out-of-state students brought $550 million to the campus in the 2016-2017 school year.
  • The top-three campuses in the system enroll 24.4 percent of non-resident students at UC Berkeley, 22.9 percent at UC San Diego, and 22.8 percent at UCLA, and under the new proposal, they would each be allowed to maintain their current levels. UC Irvine and UC Merced enroll 18.9 percent and less than one percent of non-resident students, respectively.

Dive Insight:

California has long been at the center of the debate over the balancing act between in-state and out-of-state enrollment at public institutions, and California is one state with a legislature which has consistently been supportive of higher education. However, the schools in the UCLA system are far from the biggest offenders of "shutting out" in-state students in favor of full tuition-paying out-of state students, especially in places where public support has been a persistent challenge. In Alabama, the University of Alabama enrolls 40 percent of non-resident students, Auburn University enrolls 37 percent and Alabama State enrolls 31 percent, and in Arkansas, to campuses in the University of Arkansas system enroll over 35 percent, just to name a few. 

Institution leaders must do a better job of drawing a direct correlation between state support for the public institutions, the impact of tuition caps, which are popular particularly in Republican states, and the need to compensate by admitting more full-paying students. California's plan doesn't actually reduce the current levels of out-of-state enrollment, which is what has led to the outcry, but the institutions in the University of California system also can't likely afford to lose $550 million per year if they are to remain competitive in the overall landscape.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed