Too many students from other states and countries are flocking to University of California, says a state senator who wants to limit the influx.
A constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, would prevent any UC campus from enrolling more than 10 percent of its undergraduate students from outside California. The measure, which would affect the system's nine undergraduate campuses, would take effect in 2013.
Out-of-state and international students made up 8.4 percent of UC undergraduates this year. The figure was higher -- 11.2 percent -- at UC Berkeley, and about 30 percent of that campus's freshmen this year were from outside California.
"The parents and grandparents of current UC applicants have paid taxes to build these campuses," Rubio said Friday. More Californians would be at Berkeley or UCLA if there were fewer nonresidents enrolled, he said. "For those students not to be able to attend the flagship university deserves a discussion."
Rubio's bill prompted a letter from UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who has been among the most fervent advocates of enrolling more out-of-state and international students. The campus is aiming to bring in 20 percent of its undergraduates from outside California, he has said.
In his letter, which Rubio said he had not yet read, Birgeneau asked the senator to withdraw his proposal. Because nonresident students pay much higher tuition than their California peers
He also argued that students from outside the state "bring perspectives, experiences, and cultures to the campus." UC President Mark Yudof also plans to send a letter opposing the bill, a spokesman said Friday.
Birgeneau, who will step down at the end of the year, routinely notes that repeated cuts in state funding have forced the university to turn to other sources, including nonresident students. State funds make up 12 percent of UC Berkeley's budget this year.
California residents would be less upset by the presence of out-of-state students if they knew how much had been cut from university budgets, he said in an interview.
"I would say the vast majority of Californians just don't understand how severe the budget cuts have been," he said.
Rubio said he plans to discuss the bill with Birgeneau soon and would be open to alternatives.
"I'm looking forward to having that conversation with him," Rubio said.
Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Contact him at 510-208-6488. Follow him at Twitter.com/MattKrupnick.