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Community Commentary: UCs need to accept more in-state students

July 27, 2011|By Jim Silva

The University of California and California State University systems are a source of pride for Californians. They are the best public higher education systems in the world and, even with recent tuition hikes, remain one of the best education bargains nationwide.

Recently, however, the UC, which receives annual multibillion-dollar investments from California taxpayers, has begun to forget its primary mission, which is to educate California students.

Since 2009, the number of incoming UC freshmen who are out-of-state or international has nearly doubled. In a recent article, the Los Angeles Times reported that 12.3% of all incoming UC freshmen in 2011 were not Californians. Ironically, UC Berkeley, the flagship institution of the UC system, came in with the highest percentage of non-California students at 29.8%.

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The obvious question is: Why would California institutions of higher education, whose mission is to educate California high school graduates, begin to increase their levels of out-of-state students? After all, it is California taxpayers who foot the bill for these institutions.

The answer is disappointing, yet unsurprising: UC institutions receive roughly $22,000 more in tuition and fees from out-of-state students. Unfortunately, many California students wishing to obtain UC acceptance are falling victim to university economics and forced to pursue their education elsewhere.

In reality, reducing California students' access to the very institutions that were created — and paid for — by California taxpayers only hurts our state in the long run.

I am reminded of a couple I met whose son had a GPA over 4.00, did plenty of extracurricular activities and wanted to be an electrical engineer. Denied admission to Berkeley, he went on to attend MIT in Cambridge, Mass., graduated at the top of his class and now has a successful career, makes a good salary and pays income taxes — in Massachusetts.

These are the types of students who are being robbed of a UC education. They are supplanted by out-of-state and international students who will receive their education in California only to use it in their home state or country.

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