Arturo Samaniego
National Beat Reporter

The University of California Regents approved a non-California resident enrollment cap at its May 18 meeting, placing a limit on the number of out-of-state and international students who can enroll in the UC.

The enrollment cap limits the enrollment of nonresident undergraduates at 18 percent at UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and UC Santa Barbara — the last of which currently has 12.2 percent nonresident enrollment. UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UC Berkeley, which currently exceed the cap, will be allowed to maintain their current levels of enrollment but not increase them. Overall, nonresidents comprise 16.5% of undergraduate enrollment.

The Regents established the cap nearly a year after a state audit triggered public outrage, claiming that the UC subjected nonresident admits to lower admission standards than California residents. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Regents refuted the claim that the increased revenue brought by non-residents paying out-of-state or international tuition often helped in enrolling residents and allowed for better services.

Nevertheless, all but two board members voted to approve the new cap.

The enrollment cap also follows pressure on the Regents from Gov. Jerry Brown, who said state lawmakers would allocate $18.5 million to the UC after the Regents developed a nonresident enrollment policy. The extra funds are expected to help in enrolling an additional 2,500 resident undergraduates this coming school year.

The efforts to recruit more nonresident undergraduates started in the midst of the recession when the UC lost $1 billion in state funding. This deficit was sought to be reduced with the help of the $27,000 supplemental fee nonresident undergraduates pay in addition to their tuition; at UCSB the nonresident tuition fee amounts to $26,682.

“Our new nonresident enrollment policy strikes the right balance between UC’s continued commitment to putting California students first and the significant benefits that out-of-state and international students provide the university,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in an official statement. Napolitano also asserted that the new policy “reaffirms our pledge that nonresident students will be enrolled only in addition to, and never in place of, Californians.”

There was some criticism thrown at the cap, specifically by Regent Hadi Makarechin, who shared concern that the cap would serve to isolate UC campuses. “I know the ‘in thing’ today is to build walls, but we are building a wall around the University of California by doing this,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The official document outlining the nonresident student enrollment policy states that the policy seeks to align with the California Master Plan for Higher Education, “while also acknowledging the substantial benefits provided by moderate levels of nonresident student enrollment.”

Those benefits are outlined as pertaining to “the intellectual, social, and cultural diversity provided by students from other states and other countries” that give residents “perspective and understanding of people whose experiences and backgrounds may be quite different from their own.”
     
The document also puts forth that revenue from nonresidents helps in recruiting and maintaining faculty, lowering class sizes, and purchasing resources that are “key building blocks of undergraduate education for all undergraduates.” One important note the document claims is that “$70 million of the base tuition that nonresident undergraduates pay in 2016-17 will directly subsidize need-based aid for California residents.”

The policy is set to be reviewed in at least four years to analyze its impact on the higher education of Californian students.

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