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Higher EducationUniversity of California

UC regents delay vote on controversial cap on nonresident students

 (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

University of California regents expressed an array of concerns Thursday over a controversial proposal to place a 20% systemwide limit on enrollment of undergraduates from other states and countries.

Regent Sherry Lansing fretted that the limit could deprive campuses with fewer out-of-state students of future opportunities to attract them and the extra tuition dollars they bring. Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley said UC should first make a better case to the state about its funding needs, and Regent Gareth Elliott rejected adopting any policy at all.

But UC President Janet Napolitano reminded regents that state lawmakers won't release $18.5 million in additional funding until a limit is set. 

"Somehow, we've got to navigate our way through this and end up ... with the right answer," she said.

The regents, meeting in San Francisco, initially were scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday. But they will continue discussions over the next two months and take action at their May meeting.

The public research university system's proposal allows for some growth — nonresidents currently make up 16.5% of the system's 210,170 undergraduates. UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley would be allowed to keep their current percentages, which are higher than 20%.

The 10-campus system quadrupled its nonresident enrollment between 2007 and 2016 to make up steep state budget cuts following the recession. Although UC also increased California student enrollment by 10% during that time, the growing reliance on nonresidents sparked a backlash from California families and legislators. 

Chancellors from UCLA and UC San Diego told regents how much the additional money from nonresident students — who pay about $27,000 more than their California counterparts in annual tuition — has helped pay for more faculty, courses and needed repairs.

UCLA, for instance, receives $145 million in nonresident tuition, which helped it make up significant state funding cuts and pay for higher employee benefits and salaries, said Chancellor Gene Block.

"This really made up the hole in UCLA's budget," Block said.


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