The UC Office of the President announced its proposal to increase enrollment of California residents at UC campuses by a total of 10,000 students over the next three years last week. The plan would begin by enrolling 5,000 additional students for the next school year and 2,500 students for each of the following two years.
UC President Janet Napolitano stated in a Nov. 9 press release that the plan is consistent with the university’s focus on expanding accessibility to education.
“The University of California is meeting the challenge of educating as many students as it possibly can to meet, and solve, the challenges of the future,” Napolitano said. “We are committed to sustaining increased access to our campuses and the world-class education they offer.”
According to UCOP media specialist Kate Moser, the university expects the state to allocate $25 million from its budget to finance the additional 10,000 students, while UCOP will provide an additional $25 million of its own. It also plans on requesting an additional $6 million from the state to enroll 600 more graduate students next year, as well as increased funding and enrollment in the following two years.
Moreover, the university will look to increase fundraising and tuition from out-of-state students to contribute to the enrollment boost. Another aspect of the proposal has the university cutting the scholarships it provides to low-income students from other states, saving approximately $36 million annually. However, this would not affect students who currently receive that aid.
A.S. Vice President of External Affairs Krystl Fabella, who disagreed with the initial announcement to merely increase in-state enrollment by 5,000, believes that the UC campuses lack the infrastructure necessary to add any more students. UCOP, she argued, should prioritize fixing this deficiency before increasing enrollment.
“It was already shocking at 5,000,” Fabella told the UCSD Guardian. “Any student on the ground dealing with these daily struggles will know that our campus is not ready to take on even 1,000 more students by Fall 2016. It’s simply unrealistic. If the Regents and President Napolitano are able to take on the initiative to bring in 10,000 more students, they can very well map out a plan to improve conditions for the 240,000 existing ones.”
Fabella stated that the university cannot continue to squeeze more students into its limited number of dorms and apartments. Furthermore, the amount of resources available to each student will naturally suffer with there being more students to accommodate.
“It’s not just new dorm beds and classes that would need to be factored in,” Fabella said. “It’s literally everything that will be aggravated even more with the enrollment: student-to-teacher ratio, overwhelmed TAs, housing, parking, etc. This will prove to be way more costly, with all the elements that would go into it.”
Moser told the Guardian that her office will address Fabella’s concerns after the UC Regents approve the proposal at their Nov. 19 meeting, stressing that the university has overcome problems as difficult as these in the past.
“Once the plan is approved, as we hope it will be, we will get down to the job of working out the logistics,” Moser said. “We plan to put in place the needed infrastructure on our campuses to support the increased numbers of undergraduates. Such a quick surge in enrollment is certainly a challenge, but the University of California is accustomed to meeting challenges.”
UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Barbara Sawrey expressed her support for UCOP’s goal to educate as many students as possible, believing it to be crucial to the future state of the world.
“[UCSD] supports the [UC] Office of the President’s plan to enroll 10,000 additional California undergraduates over the next three years,” Sawrey told the Guardian. “It is [UCSD’s] mission to educate California’s diverse population, as it is vital not only for the state’s and the nation’s economic growth, but for the intellectual development of future generations who can help solve globe’s most pressing problems.”
Speaker of the California State Assembly Tony Atkins also praised the plan, emphasizing the need of improving access to higher education for California residents.
“When the Assembly conducted our in-depth review of the University of California this year, it was clear that the university can and should do a better job fulfilling its mission to educate California students,” Atkins said in an Oct. 22 press release. “President Napolitano’s comments suggest [the University of California] has accepted this challenge.”