The University of California cannot afford to be quite the institution it has been for decades: the provider of an easily affordable yet world-class higher education for California's top high school graduates. Tuition is rising frighteningly fast, possibly to more than $12,000, compared with about $8,000 just three years ago. And now even the "California" part has been somewhat diminished as the university system offers spots to more nonresidents in order to receive the extra tuition money they pay.
The changes, painful as they are, are justifiable ways to cope with reduced funding while preserving UC's reputation. Tuition increases and enrollment patterns can be easily reversed, at least theoretically, when the economy improves, but it would take decades to rebuild a respected name and illustrious faculty once those were gone.
UC enrollment officials say that the big increase in nonresident undergraduates — who will make up 12.3% of this fall's freshman enrollment, compared with 8% last year — does not affect California students because UC accepted just as many of them as last year. That's true overall, but there's more at stake than overall admissions numbers. At UC Berkeley, which is well known outside the state and around the world, almost a third of the new freshmen will be from out of state. Meanwhile, the number of California students admitted to the Berkeley freshman class for this fall has decreased by close to 1,900 compared with two years ago, while the number of out-of-state and foreign students has increased by about 2,500. In other words, significantly fewer California students can find a place at one of UC's most popular campuses.