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UCSB Says UC’s New Out-of-State Enrollment Cap Won’t Have Impact on Campus

Enrollment of non-California students at UC Santa Barbara is already below Board of Regents' new 18-percent limit

With 12 percent of its students from outside of California, UC Santa Barbara doesn’t consider the newly mandated 18-percent out-of-state enrollment cap to be an issue. Click to view larger
With 12 percent of its students from outside of California, UC Santa Barbara doesn’t consider the newly mandated 18-percent out-of-state enrollment cap to be an issue. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Heeding pressure from state officials and many Californians, the University of California has agreed to cap its enrollment of out-of-state students beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, a move UC Santa Barbara says will not be an issue for the campus.

Many UC System campus officials say enrolling students from outside California and the United States increases diversity and boosts revenue with those students’ extra $27,000 in tuition.

On the other side, a recent audit concluded that the gradually increasing acceptance of out-of-state students squeezes out Californians.

Last Thursday, the Board of Regents approved the very first such cap for undergraduates, with the UCs at Santa Barbara, Davis, Merced, Riverside and Santa Cruz limited to 18 percent non-Californians.

Berkeley, Irvine, UCLA and San Diego — already above that threshold — are capped at their respective out-of-state enrollments for the 2017-2018 year.

Across the nine campuses, the average out-of-state rate is 16.5 percent. This past fall, the University of California enrolled 7,500 more undergraduates than the previous fall.

According to UCSB, 88 percent of its more than 20,000 undergrads are from California.

“It’s not an issue for us at all,” UCSB spokeswoman Andrea Estrada told Noozhawk.

With its out-of-state rate still 6 percent below the new ceiling, she said the campus won’t be affected, and is focused on recruiting California students.

Per its 2010 Long Range Development Plan, the university is working on a 1-percent enrollment increase each year to 2025, when it plans to have a maximum of 25,000 students. UCSB says that growth rate resembles that of the Santa Barbara area.

To accommodate all the new Gauchos, UCSB has been feverishly constructing new dorms and apartments along Storke Road and the western end of El Colegio Road. It has also bought up large apartment complexes in neighboring Isla Vista.

In March, the regents delayed voting on a systemwide cap of 20 percent. That same month, a state audit concluded that the number of non-Californians the UC system was enrolling hurt state residents, squeezing them out of the state’s top tier of public higher education.

Data from the audit showed that since 2011, California applicants and admittance began to flatten out, while the number of prospective and admitted out-of-state students grew.

Earlier this year, regents also approved the first tuition hike in six years: a 2.5-percent increase set to take effect the coming school year.

The enrollment and tuition actions come amid heightened scrutiny of the university system. Another recent audit found that the UC Office of the President did not disclose a $175 million surplus and paid unusually high salaries.

As enrollment at Santa Barbara’s UC grows, that of its community college has contracted.

Santa Barbara City College, notable for its high number of out-of-area students, cannot set a limit on the number of students from other states, but does charge them higher fees.

Its board has set a 1,500-student cap on international enrollees, which it reviews annually.

The college has witnessed its student body shrink some over the last several years, to 13,165 last fall from 16,180 in 2009.

In-district students — those from Carpinteria to the Gaviota coast — have dropped 16.4 percent in that time, while the number of out-of-district Californians has decreased 15.8 percent.

Out-of-state and international enrollment have increased roughly by those margins since 2009.

SBCC spokeswoman Luz Reyes-Martin said the college doesn’t know exactly why it’s experiencing the decline, but suspects it’s a combination of SBCC’s geographic isolation, the area’s high cost of living and low rental housing vacancy rate, and more spots opening up in the UC and Cal State University systems.

Reyes-Martin said the college has an “excellent ‘capture rate’” of local high school students, and that it’s heard from area high schools that their own enrollment is flat or declining slightly.

Local students make up about 46 percent of SBCC’s headcount, according to the college. Coupled with all other California students, that number jumps to 87 percent.

“Although our enrollment has declined, we are not attempting to increase our enrollment,” she told Noozhawk​ in an email.

“We are focused on stabilizing the decline and evaluating our course offerings to meet the needs of local students.”

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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