Under strong demand for admissions, UC aims to increase by 33,000 places

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The University of California, facing a record surge in applications, aims to increase the number of places for California students to 33,000 by 2030, equivalent to building a new campus.

At least half of the growth would come from the most popular campuses in the UC system — UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego — in part by reducing the number of overseas and international students and giving those seats to Californians.

UC does not plan to build a new campus due to time and expense. But the system’s nine undergraduate campuses are developing plans to accommodate increased enrollment with more online classes, summer offerings, off-campus programs, potential satellite locations and additional support to help students get their diploma more quickly, which would free up places.

The ambitious goals were presented at UC’s Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco this week and represent a 50% increase from UC’s previously announced plan to increase enrollment by more than 20,000. by 2030. The lower goal has secured multi-year funding commitments from the state, but UC President Michael V. Drake noted that the higher “ambitious” goal of 33,000 will require additional resources for more faculty, classrooms, teaching laboratories, student accommodation and support services.

“Our goal has always been to grow in a way that serves the State of California and meets its future educational and workforce needs, while serving each of the communities we call home. “, Drake told the Regents this week.

At least one state lawmaker has said he’s on the highest target: Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), chairman of an Assembly subcommittee on funding for education that has long pushed UC to increase seats for California students.

One way to do this is to replace some foreign and international students with California residents, a process that UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego began this year with increased state support to cover lost tuition. higher than non-residents pay. McCarty said he and his legislative colleagues would be “very open” to funding a continued gradual reduction of non-resident students to as low as 10% of undergraduate enrollment – ​​the systemwide average is now around 18%, with UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego at around 24%.

“It’s music to my ears,” McCarty said of UC’s enrollment goals. “That’s exactly what we’ve been calling for over the past five or ten years: to increase access for highly qualified California students. This is a top priority for the Legislative Assembly.

The expanded enrollment plan comes as UC requests hit record highs. The system’s nine undergraduate campuses attracted nearly 211,000 freshman applications for fall 2022, a 3.5% increase over last year as the elimination of standardized testing requirements and greater online outreach have paid off in attracting the largest and most diverse candidate pool ever.

UC detailed its enrollment plan in an 88-page report, who said system growth should be “intentionally” planned to increase graduation rates, close equity gaps, reflect the state’s diversity, support underserved areas such as the Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley, and meet the state’s workforce needs in health care, education, science, and technology fields.

Each campus has different capabilities and growth strategies.

UCLA and UC Berkeley, for example, are at physical space limits and must seek to increase student numbers without adding more people to campus. In a presentation to the Regents, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the school was exploring off-campus programs in Los Angeles and satellite locations that could accommodate an additional 600 to 1,000 students. A possible satellite site is in San Pedro, where UCLA already works with AltaSea, a public-private company focused on ocean science.

UC Berkeley is also considering a satellite program at NASA-owned Moffett Field that would focus on aerospace science and engineering. The campus agreed to limit undergraduate student growth to 1% per year as part of its long-term development plan after the city and neighbors expressed opposition to more students in the community.

UC Davis is building Aggie Square, an “innovation hub” on its Sacramento campus that will include science and technology buildings and student housing. The campus estimates that a few hundred undergraduates can spend a quarter there.

Campuses also hope to absorb more students into summer school, which has seen a significant increase in enrollment across the UC system in 2020 and 2021 — particularly at UC Santa Cruz.

At UCLA, Block said a more robust summer term could potentially enroll an additional 2,000 students. And another 300 spots could open up if students graduate sooner, he said, adding that the campus has increased support services — including the Black Bruins Resource Center, launched last year, and expanded programs for Latinos, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“I really believe that UCLA, as populous as it is, can grow,” Block said.

UC Merced and UC Riverside estimate they can jointly provide about one-third of the proposed growth.

UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz told Regents that his Central Valley campus, which has completed a $1.2 billion expansion project of new student housing, classrooms, research labs and welfare facilities, can add another 2,000 students. A new UC Merced medical school is set to open next year that will have the capacity to train 200 graduate students to provide health care to the underserved region.

UC Riverside also has the land to expand and aims to increase its current enrollment from 28,000 to approximately 35,000 by 2035 as part of its long-term development plan. But the Inland Empire campus lacks the faculty, staff and teaching space to serve its current students and would need significant funding to serve more, university leaders say.

The system-wide capacity plan also envisions increasing online courses.

Before the pandemic, relatively few UC students took an online course — just 6% in fall 2019 compared to 39% at California State University, according to the report. Emergency remote courses hastily organized at the start of the pandemic were largely rejected; 60% of students who have ever taken a course specifically designed for online consumption said in a 2020 survey that distance offerings were worse. But as professors improve the quality of their online courses, 57% surveyed by the Academic Senate in spring 2021 said their interest in online teaching has increased or remained high. Some campuses are expanding these offerings, including UC Irvine.

About a quarter to a third of the proposed California seat increases would go to graduate students, who are needed to build UC’s research capacity, teach undergraduate courses, fill a pipeline for future faculty, and meet the needs of state workforce. UC lags other leading research institutions in its share of graduate students among total enrollments, the capacity report notes.

But enrollment growth won’t come cheap. To expand access to the proposed target of 23,000 additional students, UC would seek approximately $324 million in public funding. This amount is in line with the pact forged between Governor Gavin Newsom and the university system for a multi-year commitment for an annual funding increase of 5% in exchange for agreements that included in part to increase enrollment and close the gaps in equity.

To meet the broader goal of 33,000 students, UC says it would need an additional $114 million in state support for enrollment growth.

Billions more would be needed to build, repair and maintain the facilities.

But Drake and the system’s 10 chancellors have said they are determined to expand to “serve the best interests of California.”

“The University has a responsibility to train the next generation of doctors and nurses, judges and lawyers, business leaders, elected officials, researchers and professors – those who reflect California,” they said. they wrote in a letter accompanying the report. “We recognize that the demand for UC training is great.”

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