Recently California State Senator Michael Rubio (D- Shafter) introduced a constitutional amendment that would limit out-of-state student enrollment throughout the University of California system. Rubio’s intention, he says, is to end “a disturbing trend of UCs recruiting unprecedented numbers of out-of-state students over in-state students.”
Yet this proposal, while not certain to pass, has already attracted its share of opposition, including University of California at Berkeley chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau. He sees the increased non-resident enrollment numbers as a reliable and crucial means of ensuring the revenue needed to maintain campus affordability for California’s students.
Due to steep budget cuts to California public higher education, aggressive recruitment has been increased over the last few years to cover lost monies to state universities. Out-of-state students made up approximately 23 percent of freshmen students in the fall, according to Rubio, an 11 percent jump over three years.
Say It In A Letter
In a letter to Sen. Rubio earlier in the week, Chancellor Birgeneau expressed his concern over the proposed amendment. He cited his often-publicized commitment to increasing the revenue flow to the university through a policy of increasing non-resident enrollment to 20 percent of student population.
In the letter Birgeneau states the factor as “…being crucial to ensuring a predictable and reliable revenue stream and maintaining affordability for our California students while also enriching the educational experience for our students. Students from other parts of the United States, and around the world, are valuable members of the Cal community and it has been my long-held view that an increase in out-of-state and international students is a critical educational goal at Berkeley.”
Chancellor Birgeneau went on to clarify that “A fundamental feature of our enrollment strategy is that non-residents students do not displace California students. Specifically, we enroll more California students now than we did in 2003, when the state provided nearly twice the amount of funding for UC Berkeley than it does at the present time.”
While Chancellor Birgeneau goes on to further plead his case for increased non-resident enrollment by citing additional benefits for UC Berkeley students as whole and Californians specifically, as both state residents and UCB students, he does admit that Californians would be less upset buy the increased presence of out-of-state students within the UC system, if residents truly knew the amount that has been cut from university budgets, he said in another interview.
“I would say the vast majority of Californians just don’t understand how severe the budget cuts have been,” he stated.
For his part, Sen. Rubio has plans to discuss his bill with Birgeneau, as he is open to coming up with alternatives. Says Rubio “I’m looking forward to having that conversion with him.”
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