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California bill to cap foreign enrolments averted

A bill introduced in California’s state legislature that proposed placing a cap on the number of foreign students enrolling in the University of California system has been amended.

The bill was proposed following a state audit pointing out that Californian students were disadvantaged in the admissions process. Photo: K.Oliver

In 2011, admission standards were revised making it easier for non-residents to gain admission

However, new compliance procedures proposed in the amended bill have universities concerned about the sovereignty of their admissions policies.

AB-1711 was first introduced to the California Assembly in January proposing to restrict non-resident students to 10% of total student enrolments by 2020.

“We are concerned it will set a precedent for controlling admissions policy going forward”

The assembly approved the bill and passed it on to the senate in June.

It was then revised to replace the proposed cap on non-resident enrolments with requirements for greater academic performance from non-residents and for the University of California to report back to the legislature about how it is implementing its admissions policy for non-resident students.

Non-resident students, who are classified as both students from out of state as well as international students, will be required to have academic credentials which “generally exceed” the academic credentials of Californian students for admission into UC, according to the bill.

However, it continues that it “would require the University of California to report specified information to the legislature annually regarding implementation of the policy”.

The bill was proposed following a state audit pointing out that Californian students were being disadvantaged in the admissions process.

Kevin McCarty, a California assembly member, and one of the authors of the bill, told The PIE News that there has been a “growing trend at the UC to increase out of state students at the expense of California students”.

“Equally as troubling, the State Auditor found that over a three year period, the UC admitted 16,000 non-resident students whose academic qualifications were below in-state students, rationing access for California’s students.”

In 2009, California introduced policies requiring non-resident students to display greater academic performance than the upper half of domestic admissions.

“I heard just today that the legislature in California is going to limit the number of foreign students”

In 2011, admission standards were revised making it easier for non-residents to gain admission. The state audit, published in March, found an increase of non-resident students coincided with this change of policy in 2011.

The university admitted around 2,600 more resident students to a campus of their choice in 2014/15 – a 4% rise from 2010/11. However, at the same time, a 182% increase of non-resident student admission was identified in the same period, an increase of over 17,200 students, the audit points out.

According to the University of California’s freshman fall admissions survey, between 2011 and 2015, the number of international non-resident students increased substantially from 5,586 to 15,277.

The number of domestic non-residents also grew, from 9,580 to 14,921 in the same time period.

Hillary Clinton nodded to the proposed cap on non-resident students during a campaign trip to the state in June.

“One of the things we are going to do is get the cost of college down, and I heard just today that the legislature in California is going to limit the number of foreign students,” the presidential hopeful had said. “I have to say, I approve of that.”

Claire Doan, at the University of California president’s office, told The PIE News that despite avoiding the proposed cap on numbers, the university is concerned the bill will encroach on its independent admission policies.

“The legislature has historically recognised the importance of keeping admissions policies in the hands of faculty both at UC and CSU,” she said.

“This bill deviates from this practice and we are concerned it will set a precedent for controlling admissions policy going forward.”

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