Admission cap for nonresidents to UCs should be increased

November 13, 2017 — by Anna Novoselov

On average, the 62 schools that are part of the Elite Association of American Universities accept roughly 28 percent of their students from out of their state
By contrast, admissions of nonresident students to UCs may not exceed 18 percent following a regulation approved by the University of California Board of Regents last May. The four schools with a greater current enrollment for out-of-state students — UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Diego — will limit to the percent for the 2017-18 year.

Although this policy enforces the foundation purpose of the UC system — to provide quality education to deserving California residents — it unreasonably caps meritorious students from being admitted. A vast number of qualified individuals will be turned away for the sake of satisfying Californians, who despise the rising competition.

For this reason, the 18 percent cap is unfairly low and should be increased.

Out-of-state enrollment should be capped at a higher percentage, such as 30 percent, to provide a more significant opportunity for nonresidents while still favoring Californians.

According to the Los Angeles Times, annual tuition for out-of-state students is an average of $27,000 more, much of which is used for construction, lowering of class size, purchasing materials and financial aid for Californians. According to the official UC website, the extra money from nonresidents totals an average of $550 million annually, which helps the schools handle expenses not covered by state funding and maintain education quality.

Although the number of nonresidents enrolled in UCs increased by four times between 2007 and 2016, the number of admitted Californians rose by 10 percent. This has been  attributed to the campuses’ ability to include more courses and hire additional faculty members with the additional money from nonresident students.

Furthermore, having individuals from diverse backgrounds brings in new perspectives and life experiences to the campus.

International students, in particular, contribute a unique cultural element. They can help American students understand ethnic traditions and appreciate the opportunities in the U.S.

For instance, an undergraduate from UCLA, Danny Siegel, said he benefitted from his friendship with Jack Guo, who had lived in China before being accepted to  UCLA. Siegel said that it was “great to hear perspectives from different places,” which made him aware of his privileged life, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Given the UC system’s prestigious reputation, it’s no wonder why so many students flock to California’s schools. In 2014, nine UCs ranked in the top 150 universities worldwide.

UCs would be rejecting numerous qualified and hopeful individuals with the  18 percent cutoff. Instead of looking at the checked or unchecked California resident box on college applications, UC admission officers should place a greater emphasis on each student’s qualifications.

To be fair, it is still important to acknowledge that residents should be given priority, as UCs are funded by in-state taxpayers who back their child’s right to receive an advantage over nonresident undergraduates.  

Completely removing the cutoff will cause extreme dissatisfaction among state residents, resulting in a lack of support for the UC system. For this reason, it should be kept, but not limited to a point where deserving students who rank above Californians are denied admission.

If two students have similar standardized scores, grades and achievements, the California resident should be given priority. There should be standards that nonresidents must meet in order for their admittance to be even considered.

However, a much more qualified out-of-state student should be given regard and allowed a fair chance to attend a UC, even if it is at the expense of the Californian. To limit nonresident enrollment, while maintaining a reasonable opportunity for individuals, despite their citizenship status, the 18 percent cap should be increased but not removed.

To meet this goal, a 30 percent restriction is sufficient. It would honor the establishment of the UCs while expanding their ability to increase campus diversity and offer a quality education to exemplary undergraduates.


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