It would seem natural for the state’s University of California system to be full of California residents, but that is not the case. Some schools, particularly ones at Berkeley and Los Angeles, are especially challenging for local residents to be accepted into. Addressing this problem late last week, University of California President Janet Napolitano said a plan is on its way aimed to significantly increase the number of California residents admitted into the system. To this end, state legislators too aspire to higher resident admissions, urging Napolitano to move closer in that direction, plus offering financial incentives to the system to make it happen.
California student applicants have found acceptance increasingly difficult at their top choice campuses as incoming freshmen with added frustration at the high numbers of international and out-of-state students that have been admitted over the last few years.
Although Napolitano did not give specifics of her proposal for increased enrollment in the 2016-17 school year, she did describe it as “a really good plan” that will “apply to all the campuses. It will apply to Berkeley and UCLA as well as Riverside and Merced.”
As an incentive for UC to increase its number of California undergraduates, the state Legislature is offering a $25-million state funding bonus if the university system follows through to increase the number of California undergraduates by 5,000 for 2016-17.
Such a target increase was unsure as recently as last spring, when some UC officials expressed uncertainty whether enough new classes could be added along with enough additional dorm beds needed in time for the proposed school year. Yet, Napolitano now said her administration has worked through the summer on just how to increase student numbers.
Out-Of-State Student Numbers Impact In-State Admissions
Increased numbers of out-of-state and international student admissions at UC campuses have been an irritant for both legislators and state resident applicants who feel the higher income UC gets from non-resident admissions have squeezed the locals out. In response, UC officials stick by their contention that no qualified state resident is being pushed aside, although they may not make it into their first or second choice campuses.
At a Town Hall meeting in downtown Los Angeles last Wednesday, where Napolitano spoke on ways UC is tackling specific societal and scientific issues, she also revealed that UC is working to lower its costs plus keep tuition stable. She also shared that too much discussion about costs can get in the way and be harmful, as it “constricts any meaningful dialogue” about UC. Overall Napolitano felt such intense discussion eliminates individual California voices, with varied opinions, perspectives, and ideas. She of course promotes the intrinsic value of a strong, public university system that includes a vital public research university in California. Napolitano asks legislators and the public to consider “opportunity costs.”
“What is the opportunity cost of not having a strong University of California? What is the opportunity cost of not having a public research university in California that is home to Nobel laureates, MacArthur genius award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and some of the best researchers and scholars in the world?
She also points out the necessity of accommodating more state students throughout the UC system. “What is the opportunity cost of not instructing more than 230,000 students a year at UC? Or of not increasing enrollment to accommodate more Californians?” she added.
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