Capitol Alert

Bill would cap out-of-state enrollment at University of California

Students walk on the UCLA campus on Feb. 26, 2015.
Students walk on the UCLA campus on Feb. 26, 2015. The Associated Press

The Legislature may be putting its foot down on growing nonresident enrollment at the University of California.

Assemblymen Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, and Jose Medina, D-Riverside, on Tuesday announced a proposal to withhold state funding from UC unless it caps the amount of out-of-state and international undergraduates on its campuses at their current level of 15.5 percent systemwide. Assembly Bill 1711 also would mandate that at least half of the money generated from nonresidents’ supplemental fees be used to support more slots for California students.

“Unfortunately, despite a strong directive and additional funding from the Legislature, recently released data shows that UC continued to grow its nonresident population while serving fewer California students,” Medina said in a statement. “It is clear that additional statutory guidance is necessary to ensure all qualified California students have a fair chance at a world class UC education.”

Whether Californians were being pushed out of the system was a sticking point for lawmakers in a high-profile budget battle last year with UC. After receiving a larger allocation from the state, the university committed in November to increasing resident enrollment by 10,000 slots over three years. But it later revealed that the number of new California undergraduates actually fell last fall as it tried to keep enrollment flat during the budget negotiations.

That angered many politicians, including McCarty, who told The Sacramento Bee at the time that he would pursue legislation on the matter. “We need to draw the line,” he said.

Even as public funding recovered from the budget cuts of the economic recession, UC has increasingly recruited outside of the state for higher-paying nonresident students whose fees generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the university. It has already exceeded several caps on nonresident enrollment levels recommended by UC’s governing board, but the university maintains that their presence subsidizes thousands of Californians not funded by the state.

While the number of out-of-state and international students was kept flat this year at UCLA and Berkeley, the system’s most competitive campuses, because of lawmaker concerns, it grew overall.

The University of California did not immediately have a response to the bill.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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