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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Editorial: Denials on the path to privatization

The University of California is headed toward privatization. UC officials deny it, but recent data out of the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) reveal a different plan.

Last year, UC enrolled more out-of-state students who can pay higher fees and help bail UC out of debt. At UC Davis, officials admitted 1,360 non-residents for Fall 2010, compared to 493 in Fall 2009. UC can charge these out-of-state students $23,000 in additional non-resident fees.

The plan to recruit more students who can pay higher fees makes financial sense. But this business model is used by private universities – not public state universities. UC faces a huge budget deficit next year. Admitting more non-residents is one solution, but the decision goes against UC’s stated mission.

According to the University of California Diversity Statement adopted by UCOP in 2007, “The knowledge that the University of California is open to qualified students from all groups, and thus serves all parts of the community equitably, helps sustain the social fabric of the State.”

This statement is no longer true. Non-residents with deep pockets are replacing Californians at UC Davis.

In an April 18 press release, Lora Jo Bossio, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs and interim director of Undergraduate Admissions at UC Davis, claimed that out-of-state students are not taking spots meant for Californians. She pointed out that even though those 867 additional non-residents were admitted, UC Davis also admitted 438 additional Californians.

Anyone willing to wade through the numbers will find that UC Davis received 45,825 first-year student applications last year. Surely there were another 867 qualified Californians in that bunch. The situation is worse for other UCs. As non-resident admissions go up system wide, UC San Diego and UC Riverside expect to cut freshman enrollment.

Privatizing UC might help preserve the quality of education on campuses. With an extra $23,000 per student, UC Davis could afford to pay for its excellent faculty and vital resource staff. Privatization would release UC from dependence on the current paltry amount of California state tax money. If UC privatized, officials could enroll all the non-residents they want – and stop pretending to value struggling Californians.

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