Wednesday, June 8, 2011

University of California now admitting less Californians

Californians have long had the best public university system in the world, but because of our ongoing budget crisis, current high school students and their parents are facing some grim realities. In order to cope with expected budget cuts of $500 million to $1 billion, the University of California system is continuing to increase the number of admissions slots offered to out-of-state applicants, who pay three times as much tuition as residents do. Out-of-state admissions share now stands at 18%, up from 11.6% just two years ago. That translates to about 4,700 well-qualified Californians who will be denied admission to their own universities in favor of nonresidents.

Some of this shortfall can be made up for by the California State University system, whose local campuses offer admissions guarantees for regions historically served by that campus. That means that a high school student from San Jose is guaranteed a spot at San Jose State as long as he meets the minimum of a 2.45 GPA and 1550 SAT I score (no other criteria required). These campuses then fill the rest of their slots with the best applicants from across the state. While this is extremely helpful for many borderline students, it raises its own set of problems, especially for average students who don’t live near a CSU campus, like those from Santa Cruz. Not only are they not guaranteed admission into either of the public university systems that their parents pay taxes for, they face the likelihood of being bumped from a school with a good program in their chosen major by a less-qualified student who either can pay more (in the case of UC’s) or lives in the local area (in the case of CSU’s).

Many of us are understandably frustrated, even outraged, that our own taxpayer-funded universities are restricting our options for an affordable, high-quality education. But at the same time, could losing spots to nonresidents actually be, as the UC Regents claim, “better for Californians?” After all, the alternative is even deeper cuts to already-strained departments and services, at a time when some science majors are already taking 5 to 6 years to complete because of the dearth of available classes. Parents of California, which do you think is the more important mission for the UC’s to prioritize: providing the highest possible quality of education, or continuing to serve the people of this state?

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