Concerned that a surge in out-of-state students at University of California campuses may put residents at a disadvantage, Senate leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) called Thursday for UC administrators to significantly boost tuition for nonresidents.
In his first major policy proposal since taking over as Senate president pro tem last month, De Leon said he was concerned that some Californians may be unable to afford the UC system or get into the UC campus of their choice because of an increase in students from other states, as well as from foreign countries including China and India.
De Leon called for the change in a letter and phone call Thursday to UC President Janet Napolitano, asking her to consider following the lead of public universities in other states including Virginia, where out-of-state tuition is 17% more than what California charges, or about $4,000 more a year.
"California's university system is one of the premiere higher education systems in the world and we should require that nonresident students pay a premium to attend it," De Leon wrote to Napolitano. "The revenue generated from these fees can be used to increase affordability and access for more Californians."
The Times recently reported that the percentage of freshmen on UC campuses who are from outside the state had risen from 6% in 2009 to an unprecedented 20% this year. Out-of-state students make up 30.1% of the freshman at UCLA, up from 7.5% a decade ago.
The proposal comes after Napolitano proposed raising tuition by up to 5% per year for five years for all students, including Californians. De Leon opposes the president's plan and sees a larger increase for nonresidents as one alternative.
Out-of-state students already pay about $23,000 annually on top of the in-state tuition of $12,192. They too would be hit with a 5% increase under the UC proposal.
De Leon said that Virginia charged 17% more on the out-of-state premium and that California should follow that lead. His proposal drew interest from Jefferson Kuoch-Seng, president of the UC Student Assn.
"It has always been the belief of UCSA that California's higher education system serves Californians first and foremost," he said. "We believe that priority should be given to eligible students in California who have worked to pursue a degree in their home state."
But, he said there "should and always will be room at the table for scholars from around the country and the world. We would like to see the UC move beyond what is clearly a broken model."
In addition to opposing the rate increase on California students, De Leon told Napolitano that UC should become as aggressive in recruiting disadvantaged California students as they are in recruiting wealthy students from out of state.
In an interview, De Leon said the UC system had become too dependent on out-of-state students to keep its budget afloat.
"I know why they do that -- to try to keep afloat," he said in a recent interview, speaking about recruiting out-of-state students. "But I am concerned that it has come at the cost of the well-deserving California students."
UC administrators say expanded freshman classes mean California students are not losing out to those from out of state. Napolitano says if her plan is implemented, she could bring in an additional 5,000 California students.