An audit of the University of California says that the system has undermined its commitment to in-state students by recruiting and enrolling greater numbers of out-of-state residents.
The report by the California State Auditor says that the 10 campuses in the system target non-residents for recruitment because they pay higher non-resident tuition rates.
"In response to reduced state funding, the university made substantial efforts to enroll nonresident students who pay significantly more tuition than residents," Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in an introductory letter to the audit. "...The university’s decision to increase the enrollment of nonresidents has made it more difficult for California residents to gain admission to the university."
The report says that from 2010-11 to 2014-15, non-resident student enrollment rose 82 percent, and resident enrollment dropped by 1 percent.
The university system disputes the auditor's conclusions and has issued its own report in rebuttal, "Straight Talk on Hot-Button Issues."
"The University of California accepts every California high school student applicant, and every California community college transfer applicant, who meets its eligibility criteria for admission," the report asserts. "Even when the University faced nearly $1 billion dollars in state budget cuts, UC found a place at one of its campuses for all eligible California applicants who applied."
The UC system also plans to enroll 5,000 more California undergraduates in 2016-17 than in 2014-15, and
plans to enroll an additional 5,000 California undergraduates in the following two years, the report says.
The state audit says that relaxing the admission standard for non-residents has resulted in UC's admitting 16,000 students over the past three years with lower academic scores than the upper half of residents who were admitted. It also found that non-residents were always admitted to the UC campus they chose, but residents "were increasingly denied their campus of choice.
The audit recommends that California legislators consider enacting limits on the number of non-residents that the UC system may admit as well as toughening the admission standards for non-residents.
"We believe that legislative intervention...is necessary to ensure that a university education once again becomes attainable and affordable for all California residents who are qualified and desire to attend," the audit says.