University of California officials have proposed limiting nonresident enrollment to 20 percent of all undergraduate students in an effort to prioritize in-state applicants.
The proposal introduced Monday would be the first cap of its kind for the 10-campus public university system and will be considered by the UC Board of Regents starting next week.
Last year, lawmakers threatened to hold back $18.5 million if the UC system did not limit students from outside California. UC officials hope the restriction would be enough to get state officials to release the funds.
A state audit found that UC was hurting California students by admitting too many out-of-state applicants. Nonresident students numbered 34,673 in fall 2016 — 16.5 percent of the system's 210,170 undergraduates.
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UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the proposed policy balanced the needs of California residents with the benefits those outside students bring — diverse perspectives as well as millions in additional tuition revenue, which added up to nearly $550 million in 2016-17.
"The policy is very clear: Nonresident students will be in addition to and not in place of California residents," Klein told the Los Angeles Times.
Shelly Tan, a Los Angeles area parent, said qualified California students should have the advantage. Her own daughter was turned down by her top three UC choices two years ago — despite SAT scores and a grade point average above the 90th percentile — and ended up at a fourth UC campus.
"Given the economic climate and competition, California parents have to start being selfish," Tan told the newspaper.
UC Academic Senate Chairman James Chalfant said faculty members oppose an "arbitrary quota" that could force UC to turn away the best and the brightest and forgo additional needed dollars. The group has presented an alternative that would impose enrollment limits only on campuses at which the expansion of nonresident students hurts Californians and only after UC is given enough funding to maintain its quality.
Under the proposal, the system's three most popular campuses would be allowed to keep but not increase their proportions of nonresident undergraduates — 24.4 percent at UC Berkeley, 22.9 percent at UC San Diego and 22.8 percent at UCLA, Klein said.
The proportion of nonresident students at the other campuses ranges from 18.9 percent at UC Irvine to less than 1 percent at UC Merced.