With budget cuts from state funding on the rise, UC campuses have been seeking a way to compensate. This year, UC campuses, with the exception of UC Berkeley, increased the number of admissions offered to non-Californians with the hope of bringing in more funding.
For the upcoming school year, UC campuses offered admission to 43 percent more out-of-state and foreign students than they did last year. This does not mean that the number of non-Californian students will rise by 43 percent. The hope of the UC campuses, over the next few years, is to raise enrollment of non-Californian undergraduates by 10 percent, bringing the enrollment of out-of-state undergraduates to 16.9 percent. As a result, the number of admissions offered to Californian applicants started to decrease. With this and the increase in number of applications from California residents, admission into UC campuses has become increasingly competitive for California residents.
Typically, higher competition entails reforms to shrink the application pool. At the eight UC campuses, however, the higher competition pertains only to state residential applicants, so these reforms were not implicated. In fact, in an effort to raise enrollment from out-of-state students, the UC schools have actually widened their application pool by dropping the requirement that students take two supplemental SAT subject exams.
The admissions rate for California students decreased from 69.7 percent last year to 65.8 percent this year. This decrease does not even adjust for the increase in applications this year. More specifically, UC Irvine cut in-state freshman admissions by 16.2 percent; UCLA cut in-state freshman admissions by 15.1 percent. To say the least, California residents are unhappy with the fact that their qualified, hard-working children are being turned away from their UC campus of choice to open spots for non-residents.
With the increase of out-of-state admissions, California residents and state legislators have begun feeling less connected to the UC campuses. UC campuses will bring in $23,000 per out-of-state student each year. Currently the average difference between tuition costs for residential students and out-of-state students is $23,000.
While this will bring in a lot more funding to the UC schools temporarily, the Higher Education Policy Institute advices UC schools to be cautious with their new policies. It is predicted that an increase in the disconnection between Californians and their universities will result in less funding when the economy improves. The Institute claims that the short-run effect of the increase in out-of-state admissions will definitely provide UC campuses with temporary relief, but the long-run effect of this decision may not be worth the temporary aid.
As an alternative, the Institute suggests that a more fruitful policy would be to cut the funding from graduate academic programs. The Institute believes that such a policy would provide the campuses with the extra funding they need for their undergraduate programs, not create a feeling of disconnect between the UC campuses and California residents and state legislatures and remove the risk of UC campuses not receiving more funding when the economy turns around.
UC Berkeley found it not worth the extra tuition revenue in enrolling more out-of-state students in its current freshman class. This year, the school cut back its admission percentage of out-of-state students by 12.5 percent.
Two arguments support the decisions of the other eight UCs, however. Firstly, advocates of the increase in the number of out-of-state admissions argue that the goal of increasing the percentage of out-of-state admissions by 10 percent would only bring the percentage level to 16.9 percent. A good majority of the students would still be from within the state. Secondly, advocates claim that an increase in out-of-state admissions would better foster cultural diversity and better cultivate different perspectives on campus.
With eight out of the nine UC campuses increasing their number of admission offers to out-of-state students, the UC campuses definitely drew great controversy this year. Whether or not they choose to increase or decrease their number of admission offers next year will determine whether or not they feel the short-term funding is worth the risk of reduced funding in the future and how greatly they value cultural diversity. It will be interesting to see how the UC campuses will address this issue in the next few years.