Jeff Chiu / AP

University of California to cap out-of-state enrollment

The University of California will cap enrollment of out-of-state students as state residents say they're left out

The University of California will cap enrollment of out-of-state students at its most popular campuses next year amid criticism of the dearth of spots available for California residents, UC President Janet Napolitano said on Tuesday.

Napolitano's move to hold steady on non-resident enrollment at its Berkeley and UCLA campuses, and allow only a slight increase at San Diego, comes as she is engaged in tense negotiations with the legislature and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown over funding for the 10-campus system next year.

"We will put a cap on next year's out-of-state enrollment at UCLA and Berkeley, where the demand is highest, at this year’s current level," Napolitano said in testimony to a legislative budget committee.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins slammed the plan, expressing frustration over “UC’s latest attempt to use students as bargaining chips.”

“Proposing a cap on out-of-state students at two UC campuses, while increasing out-of-state enrollment overall, does not solve the problem," Atkins said. "UC’s job is to educate California students, not wait-list them."

According to the Los Angeles Times, "An unprecedented 20% of this year’s freshman class across UC is from outside California and about 30% at UCLA and UC Berkeley." 

The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2014 places six University of California campuses among its annual list of the world's top universities, according to the UC website.

"UC Berkeley and UCLA placed in the top 10, at sixth and 10th place, respectively. UC San Francisco placed 32nd and UC San Diego, 40th; UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara were in the top 70," according to the release on the university site. 

Such rankings make one of the largest public universities in the United States an attractive option for students, despite the disparity of costs for in-state and out-of-state students. According to the UC-Berkeley registrar's web site, all undergraduates pay tuition of $5,610 per semester and out-of-state students pay an additional tuition supplement of $11,439 per semester. By comparison, undergraduate tuition at Stanford University, is $14,728 per quarter.

University administrators, who have increased recruiting of non-resident students, say the higher fees help subsidize tuition for California residents but tension over the crowding issue escalated last year after Napolitano demanded that the state increase funding for the university by twice the amount planned or face tuition increases.

That angered Brown, who had promised to increase funding only if the university held tuition steady. Moreover, he said, any increase above the amount planned would not be considered until the university found ways to save money out of its existing budget.

He and Napolitano have been engaged in a complicated game of political chess since then, and Napolitano agreed to hold tuition steady but only for next summer. 

Al Jazeera with Reuters

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