SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - The University of California will cap enrollment of out-of-state students at its most popular campuses next year amid criticism of the paucity 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.
Out-of-state enrollment at UC San Diego, currently estimated to be about 19 percent of undergraduates, would go up to 20 percent under Napolitano’s plan.
Out-of-state students currently make up 22.4 percent of undergraduates at UC Berkeley and 21.8 percent at UCLA.
Enrollment by students from other U.S. states and other countries has become contentious in California, where cash-strapped universities rely on the higher tuition that these students pay. University administrators say those high fees help subsidize tuition for California residents.
But resident students say they are being crowded out because more slots are going to those from outside the state.
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.
Napolitano agreed to hold tuition steady but only for next summer. And her promise to hold down out-of-state enrollment was immediately criticized by the state assembly’s top Democrat.
While out-of-state enrollment would be capped at current levels at Berkeley and UCLA, the rise at San Diego and other campuses would amount to an additional 2,000 students, said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who represents San Diego.
“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.”
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Eric Beech