It’s no secret that the University of California school system is struggling financially. The impact of the recession on education has been so thoroughly canvassed that “UC” and “budget cuts” go conversationally hand-in-hand. In the latest turn of events, UC regents are voting on whether or not undergraduate fees should be raised 8 percent.
To counter the educational belt-tightening, UC schools everywhere, including those that are located in international offices or online, are now focusing their energies on enrolling a higher percentage of out-of-state students.
This is an unprecedented move — one that has left many prospective in-state students with the sense that their own renowned educational system has abandoned them.
The decision is not completely unjustified. Out-of-state students bring in sizeable commissions that enable schools to keep key courses open and help students graduate on time. At UC Berkeley, for example, out-of-state students pay on average $11,439.50 more per semester than do in-state students.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that in-state applicants are being reviewed more critically than are out-of-staters. Many UC schools are insisting that they will be able to boost their number of out-of-state students without cutting the number of local applicants they accept.
Even if that proves true, this initiative still means that the concentration of recruiting resources and UC representatives will lie outside California. In-state applicants are bound to suffer in some way from a system that is not focused on encouraging them to enroll.
We haven’t yet found the solution to affordable education. But there are no long-term advantages to the prioritization of out-of-state students. It’s merely a quick-fix. And it’s unfortunate that when selecting a quick-fix, the UC school system chose one that neglects its local students in favor of raising a few extra dollars.
Ultimately, the public education system is there to serve the students, regardless of where they hail from. The solution to funding problems that affect those students should be one that considers them all equally.