California Residents in Uproar Over UC Admissions
May 13, 2014
Early in April, UC campuses released their admission statistics for fall of 2014, which revealed an increase in the number of out-of-state and international admits over the past year. This change has prompted protests from residents who believe the California public school system should favor in state applicants. Articles in the LA Times, San Jose Mercury News, and other publications have contributed to the controversy. However, these articles and the accompanying viewpoints often fail to take into account the insufficient funding provided by the state. The lack of proper funds has forced the UC system to accept more out of state students as a means of funding the California residents.
“There are people who think that every international or out of state student admitted to the UC is taking a place away from a California student. That’s absolutely not true,” says M-A college counselor Alice Kleeman of the misleading statistics that drive these arguments. “The UC does not have a problem with capacity. It could educate a lot more students. It has a problem with funding.”
“When you’re underfunded, then you either have to cut programs and services and quality, or cut the number of students you’re servicing.” While some UC campuses have reduced class size and others have increased class size, nearly all have taken the third option to accept more out of state and international applicants. This choice minimizes the need for program cuts or class size reduction.
According to Kleeman, the UC campuses seek out international and out-of-state students to reap the benefits of the full tuition. This extra money serves as a supplement to the insufficient funding provided by the state, and ultimately helps educate the California residents already in the system. “Those students are in a sense subsidizing California students, but they are not taking seats away from them.”
Class size in the UC system has actually increased over the past year. While some individual campuses decreased the number of admitted students for the class of 2018, the system as a whole accepted 4.8% more students than last year, and 1.7% more California students.
Furthermore, not all campuses have increased the number of out-of-state and international admits. According to preliminary statistics released in April, UC Berkeley had a 4.3% decrease in out-of-state admits, and a 20.3% drop in international admits. Berkeley also saw a 9% decrease in California applicants, but this could be attributed to the overall decline in class size. Other campuses such as Davis, Riverside and Santa Cruz saw a rise in both overall admits and California admits.
While articles posted in the LA Times, San Jose Mercury News, and elsewhere may acknowledge the fact that international and out-of-state students are not taking spots away from California students, readers tend to misunderstand the confusing statistics used in such articles. “I have read some articles that really play fast and loose with those statistics. Sometimes they talk about numbers, then they talk about percentages. It’s very misleading.”
The statuses, oftentimes accompanying Facebook posts, also contribute to the confusion, according to Kleeman. She recalls a post on a Facebook page intended for college counselors, in which someone posted this article with a heading that suggested the UCs had accepted more international and out of state students than California students.
Additionally, the UC system has a relatively low out of state and international student body compared to “flagship institutions” elsewhere. For example, about 34% of the student body at the University of Michigan hails from outside Michigan, and approximately 31% of the student body at the University of Virginia hails from outside Virginia.