Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Cal State Westwood (again)?

UC seems to be much in the news of late. Yesterday's LA Times carried an article about an effort in the legislature to limit UC enrollments to out-of-state students from 19% to 10%:

As the University of California faces huge demand for seats — and public outcry over massive rejections by top campuses in a record application year — state lawmakers are considering a plan to slash the share of out-of-state and international students to make room for more local residents. The state Senate has unveiled a proposal to reduce the proportion of nonresident incoming freshmen to 10% from the current systemwide average of 19% over the next decade beginning in 2022 and compensate UC for the lost income from higher out-of-state tuition.

This would ultimately allow nearly 4,600 more California students to secure freshmen seats each year, with the biggest gains expected at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego. The share of nonresidents at those campuses surpasses the systemwide average, amounting to a quarter of incoming freshmen. UC, however is pushing back, saying the plan would limit its financial flexibility to raise needed revenue and weaken the benefits of a geographically broad student body.

“It’s not about ending out-of-state students — they really add to the mix and the educational experience,” said Sen. John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), whose Senate budget subcommittee on education discussed the plan this month. “We just have to make sure there’s enough spaces for in-state students.”...

Full story at

What makes campuses such as UCLA desirable - and thus hard to get into - is that they compete with prestigious privates on many dimensions, not just undergraduate admissions. Research, of course, is one of those dimensions. Roughly one out of ten dollars flowing into the UC budget is coming from the state.

A quick look at Harvard undergrad admissions is that it is roughly the reverse image of what is being pushed in the legislature in terms of the proportion of locals vs. outsiders. Check out: Most of Harvard's undergrads don't come from New England. 

Stanford reports that 35% of its students are from California: What frustrated parents want is for their kids to get into a prestigious institution without paying the kind of tuition the privates charge. 

If UCLA were transformed primarily into an undergraduate processor, it would become Cal State-Westwood. And we could also have Cal State-Berkeley, Cal State-San Diego (La Jolla?) And if that were to happen, there wouldn't be the high demand to get in. That's the paradox. And although those in the legislature propose to compensate UC for the lost out-of-state tuition revenue that would result, we are only one budget crisis away from seeing that kind of "commitment" vanish the way other supposed deals on funding have when Hard Times arrive.

We have noted that the dropping the SAT/ACT by UC seems to have attracted more applicants, but in no way creates more slots for admission. So rejection rates go up, angering more parents who then complain to the legislature. It's not clear the Regents thought about that effect when they made their decision.

It's nice to think about how admissions were back in the 1950s. For those with nostalgia, see the pretty picture in our previous post. But, as they say, nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

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