We shouldn’t build a moat around UC campuses to keep out the non-Californians. But neither should the University of California become the University of Everywhere Else.
The properly vaunted higher-education system, often ranked as the greatest public university system in the world, is a California treasure that was built and paid for by Californians and ought to first seek to serve the residents of our own state.
That’s why UC officials’ proposal to essentially reserve 80 percent of the undergraduate classroom seats at their campuses for actual Californians is a good and reasonable one that ought to be implemented by the Board of Regents when the body takes up the proposal in May.
There’s nothing magical about a precise 20 percent number, system-wide. That’s why the staff that drafted the proposal was smart to leave wiggle room for adjustments, with the future needs and current enrollment patterns at each of the nine undergraduate campuses taken into consideration.
The plan as first presented to the regents in March suggested the 20 percent threshold for six UC locations, but would permit the other three to stay at their currently higher numbers of out-of-staters: UC Berkeley at 24.4 percent, UC San Diego at 22.8 percent and UCLA at 22.7 percent.
UC officials’ proposal to essentially reserve 80 percent of the undergraduate classroom seats at their campuses for actual Californians is a good and reasonable one that ought to be implemented by the Board of Regents when the body takes up the proposal in May.
It needs to be made clear to both Californians and the world that the proposal does not come out of xenophobia: We Golden Staters flourish through the fact that our institutions and our businesses are so attractive to all. But it is really only in very recent times that our university has taken in a significant number of nonresidents. Ten years ago, just 5 percent of UC students came from outside California or from foreign lands; now the average across the system is 16.5 percent.
The regents actually looked at the proposal in March and were scheduled to vote on it. But both individual members of the board and administrators at several campuses raised questions about implementation that deserve answers, and the body was wise to postpone pending further study.
Some in the UC brass, which has admittedly driven the rise in nonresident students in search of more funds for the university — out-of-staters pay $26,682 a year more in tuition than do Californians — somehow claim that no “qualified” California students are denied entrance under current policy.
They get away with that half-truth because technically students apply to the whole system rather than to an individual campus. When your kid has been studying all her life to get to UCLA, and is offered UC Merced instead, the disappointment is understandable. One Southern California parent, Shirley Tan, tells of her daughter being turned down by her top three UC choices two years ago despite SAT scores and a grade point average above the 90th percentile for California high schoolers. She ended up at a fourth UC campus.
The university wants to attract the best students from around the world, and it benefits all Californians that it does so. But a 2016 report by the state auditor says the current system causes “significant harm to state residents and their families.” Allowing more young Californians to attend the campus of their choice in their own state is the best way to begin to reduce that harm.
Editor’s note: Editorials from other newspapers are offered to stimulate debate and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tribune.