Let’s break it down with the stats: The number of non-Californians that applied to become UC students in Fall 2012 rose 56 percent over last year to about 33,000. In-state applications are also up, rising 9.8 percent over last year to about 93,300, while transfer applications are down 6 percent. Put the data together, and it’s shitty all around for California residents seeking a public education.
According to Kate Jeffrey, UC’s interim director of undergraduate admissions, the increase in non-resident applications can be attributed to students nationwide “hedging their bets and not just applying to private institutions.”
Apparently, students are applying to a public university careening toward privatization instead. Oh, the irony.
For non-residents, the fact that the University of California is a public system is irrelevant, as the higher tuition they pay means the cost is the same as any private university. So the more out-of-state and international students are accepted to a UC, the more the system is essentially privatized — and the more money the UC gets. Considering the dismal state budget is hardly reliable (750 million has been cut from UC state funding this year), that money is more crucial than ever.
But most non-residents will be disappointed come spring. UC officials have promised to cap non-resident students at 10 percent — still a noteworthy increase from the current 6.9 percent. And since UCLA, UC Berkeley and UCSD receive the most applications (respectively), they also might see the most non-residents on their campuses. Put it this way: UC Merced won’t have out-of-state or international students dying to attend — thereby allowing the campus to focus more on the in-state students who were promised an affordable education by the California Master Plan for Higher Education. Instead, the top-tier UC schools will bear the brunt of the surge in out of state-ers.
Meanwhile, according to Jeffrey, the decrease in transfer students is due to a “pipeline issue,” referring to the bottleneck occurring at California community colleges when classes are cut and students are unable to get the credits they need to transfer. Just look at the numbers: Students from community colleges make up the largest portion of transfer students — and they dropped by 5.7 percent.
As a result, the governing board of the California Community Colleges approved a set of reforms Jan. 9 that aims to streamline the road to graduation, certification and transfers, including prioritizing registration for students who have declared these educational goals.
Hopefully such changes will bring the number of transfer students up again. As for California students looking to attend a UC school, we can only hope that Jerry Brown finds room in the state budget to make them a priority, because without help from the state, the UC system will have to ditch its promises out of dire necessity — and judging by the numbers, there’s plenty of students worth more money outside the Golden State.