Earlier this month, efforts to curb the University of California out-of-state and international student enrollment rate were thwarted. Championed by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, Assembly Bill 1711, would have capped non-California resident students at 15.5 percent of the entire university population for each of the ten campuses. Though the bill hit a wall in its ratification process, there are still intentions to see the plan to fruition, an action that would ignore many sound arguments. Ultimately, the admittance of non-California students not only ensures economic security, but also cultivates diversity.
At USC, even though many students may deem certain UC schools enemies during game days, it is hard to deny their prestige. According to a 2015 report, eight UC colleges placed on the Times Higher Education World University rankings, based on a criteria such as “teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.” UC Berkeley and UCLA also led the list as the top public institutions in the world. With their emphasis on holistic academic development, it’s easy to see how close to 50,000 out-of-state and international applicants sought to make UC schools their choice for matriculation.
A statewide audit revealed Thursday found that admissions standards for in-state students were more stringent than for out-of-state students, strengthening the sentiment that increased admittance of out-of-state students actually hurts in-state students. On the surface, it seems as if many UC schools have elevated their standards for in-state admission while maintaining relaxed standards for nonresidents because they will pay more.
Regardless of this criticism, such a policy change is necessary because, behind the scenes, California’s financial support for the UC schools has been severely slashed. Coupled with the effects of the recession and rising costs of resources, states largely withdrew their support for public education, so much so that in 2012, tuition — not state government budgets — became the driving factor in keeping schools open during the 2011-2012 school year. In order to hold their schools to the same standard, the UC system turned to out-of-state students to subsidize the cost of academics. With the out-of-state price tag almost twice the amount of what in-state students pay, looking out of state was the only option to keep schools open.
As UC President Janet Napolitano revealed in a March 8 letter in response to an investigation on the effects of the current admission standards on California students, it would be “unfair and unwarranted” to assume that officials were trying to do anything else other than “[mitigating] the impact of a 33 [percent] budget cut.” In fact, without the support of funds from out-of-state students, residents would have faced a $2500 increase in tuition. Ultimately, this was a choice made in part to preserve the academic quality amid a shortage of resources.
Here at USC, a private institution that takes pride in the fact that students matriculate from all 50 states and 75 different countries, it’s easy to sever our student body from the UC system’s. But with tuition hikes and ongoing discussions about campus climate, our stories are not so different. Everyone deserves an equal chance to gain admission and thrive among others.