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UC increases number of out-of-state and international students for the fall

July 14, 2010 | 11:55 am

A record number of out-of-state and international students are planning to enroll as University of California freshmen in the fall, the result of a controversial effort by the revenue-hungry university to garner the much-higher tuition these non-Californians must pay.

About 8.2% of UC's projected total of 37,151 freshmen will be from out of state or from another country, up from 6% for the school year that just ended, according to statistics released Wednesday at a UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco. UC Berkeley and UCLA will have the largest proportion of the non-California students, with Berkeley's figures showing the most dramatic change. The Berkeley campus doubled its percentage of nonresident freshmen, who will comprise 22.6% of the class for this fall, the figures show.

California students and families have expressed concerns that some in-state students are being squeezed out as UC's nine undergraduate campuses pursue the additional $22,000 that a non-Californian must pay on top of regular UC fees. But UC officials contend that the university is accepting as many Californians as state financing will allow and that the additional funds from out-of-state students will help to subsidize classes and campus services for Californians.

A UC commission planning for the university's future has suggested raising the share of non-California residents to 10% universitywide, an idea that alarms some politicians and educators even though it still would be modest compared to other states. Prestigious state universities in Colorado, Michigan, Virginia and elsewhere regularly enroll more than 30% of their freshman classes from outside their borders.

However, Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a San Jose-based think tank, said following those states' examples could harm UC politically and economically if state legislators come to see the nonresident tuition as an excuse to keep reducing funding for higher education funding.

"It doesn't help to build your case in the state to be revenue-chasing around the country and the world," he said. "I understand the financial constraints they are in, but this should have been one of the last resorts, not one of the first."

UCLA is increasing its freshman class somewhat, keeping its ranks of Californians and out-of-state Americans about the same but boosting the number of international freshmen to 364, which is 207 more than last year. As a result, non-Californians are expected to make up about 15% of the freshman class, compared to 11.4% last year. Thomas Lifka, UCLA's associate vice chancellor for student academic services, said UCLA wants both the additional revenue and the cultural and intellectual diversity that foreign students bring. He said public resentment about the shift "doesn't take into account that the state is not meeting its responsibility to subsidize students."

UC Berkeley reduced its number of in-state students to 4,059, about 900 fewer than last year, and significantly increased the number of both out-of-state students and foreigners so that the two groups comprise 22.6% of enrolled freshmen, double last year’s share, according to the figures. Campus officials say that is part of a long-range plan to have about 20% of undergraduates from outside of California.

-- Larry Gordon