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Higher EducationUniversity of California

UC regents approve first limit on out-of-state and international student enrollment

 (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

University of California regents on Thursday approved the first limit on out-of-state and international student enrollment, settling for now a prolonged fight over who gets admitted to the prestigious public research university.

Regents voted to cap nonresident undergraduate enrollment to 18% at UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside and UC Merced. Four campuses that already exceed that level — UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and UC Irvine — will be allowed to keep but not increase the higher percentage they enroll in 2017-18.

Nonresidents currently make up 16.5% of the system's 210,170 undergraduates. 

The new policy is a compromise between campuses that want nonresident students both for their diversity and for the $27,000 in additional annual tuition they pay and Californians who argue that they unfairly squeeze out local students.

UC's original proposal of a 20% systemwide cap led to so much disagreement that regents delayed a scheduled vote on it in March and brought it back this week, reworked.

State officials held back $18.5 million in UC funding until regents adopted a nonresident policy. 

A state audit last year found that UC hurt Californians by accepting too many out-of-state and international students. The university system has disputed those findings, saying the extra tuition has helped enroll more California students and provide them with better services. 

Hadi Makarechian was one of two regents to vote against the policy. Makarechian, an Armenian born in Iran, noted that UC leaders who are immigrants include UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang and Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher.

"What are we doing to this university? Building a wall," he said.

Regent George Kieffer said he struggled with his choice but ultimately decided to support the limits as a "balance between conflicting and competing interests."

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