Prospective international students who have been California dreaming may want to come up with a back-up plan — the state budget that went into effect last Thursday will limit the share of international and out-of-state students at the University of California’s most popular campuses, in Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Nonresident enrollment at the three campuses will be reduced to 18 percent of the student body over the next five years. Currently, about a quarter of Berkeley undergraduates come from outside of California.
In recent years, University of California officials have deliberately increased international enrollments, citing both educational and financial benefits
. Across the U.S., many colleges have done so, yet there’s something that makes the UCs, and these campuses in particular, stand out: As I’ve written before, the idea of crowding out
is largely a myth,
but during the height of the international-student boom, Berkeley and UCLA increased foreign enrollments while the number of in-state students declined.
The data visualization with that article has been lost to website updates, but I was able to search my files to find the original U.S. Department of Education enrollment figures: Berkeley’s 2012 freshman class had 422 more international students than in 2006, while the number of California residents fell by 797. During the same period, UCLA added 855 international students, while in-state students dropped by 409. While I haven’t done a more recent analysis, that’s important context to a long-simmering debate.
In exchange for the cap, the budget allocates more money to the University of California — $459 million to offset losses in nonresident tuition. The budget also substantially increases state funding for financial aid. Still, the response by the university system has been somewhat lukewarm, with a spokesperson telling the San Francisco Chronicle
that there are concerns the plan could “potentially lead to unanticipated outcomes.”
No doubt this caution reflects uncertainty around state funding for higher ed. California’s coffers are flush now — but what about next year or in five years, when the enrollment reductions go fully into effect? It also gets at a point made by experts, that the impact of international students is not completely captured in apples-to-apples comparisons of enrollments. Nonresident students pay three times as much in tuition and fees as their California classmates. Without their presence, could in-state enrollments have been maintained during during economic downturns?