Capitol Alert

Plan to cap UC nonresident students hits early opposition

Students at University of California, Los Angeles, campus on Sept. 8, 2014.
Students at University of California, Los Angeles, campus on Sept. 8, 2014. The New York Times

After falling short in its first policy committee, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty will scale back his proposal to cap the University of California’s nonresident enrollment.

Assembly Bill 1711 would have limited out-of-state and international students to 15.5 percent of the undergraduate student body, their current rate system-wide. But McCarty, D-Sacramento, said some of his colleagues felt the university needed more flexibility.

The measure received six yes votes, just short of the seven it needed to advance. McCarty said he will return with amendments in the next few weeks that put a hard cap on Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego, where nonresidents now make up 20 percent or more of students, and leave some room for growth at the other six undergraduate campuses, including Davis.

He is also considering a provision that would remove the limits if state support for UC starts falling again. Amid the deep budget cuts of the recession, the university increasingly turned its focus beyond California’s borders to recruit higher-paying out-of-state and international students.

“This was a necessary evil. They had to do this to keep the lights on,” McCarty said. “So going forward, we’re going to put some type of clause in there or trigger to allow this to be addressed if there’s a budget crisis.”

Nonresident enrollment, which many worry is crowding Californians out of the state’s premier public institution, became a central issue in last year’s budget battle between UC and Gov. Jerry Brown. Though Brown pushed the university to expand its slots for residents, the number of new California students actually dropped this past fall.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff