Commentary: UC’s Enrollment Policies Have Far-Reaching Local Implications



While the state audit’s report was not necessarily surprising, many were caught off guard by just how stark UC’s enrollment policy is. The policy has far-reaching implications on a local level, impacting everything from city of Davis land use policies reflecting shortages in available rental housing to anger in the minority communities, and ultimately it feeds into student dissatisfaction which is driving calls for the chancellor’s resignation or dismissal.

On Wednesday, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty responded to the audit by issuing a statement, “I introduced Assembly Bill 1711 to cap the number of non-resident students attending the University of California. While the UC has insisted that non-resident students do not supplant resident California students, the audit released today shows that not only is the UC wrong, but the problem is much more severe than even I feared.

“This audit validates many of the concerns that have been raised in countless hearings regarding the University of California. The UC has not only rationed access for California’s students who are qualified and even exceeded admission requirements under California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, but over the last 3 years, the UC has admitted 16,000 non-resident students with lower academic scores than the top half of admitted resident students.  This policy has had a disproportionate effect on underrepresented students who are finding it harder to access the UC System.”

He added, “In light of this, I will continue to push for AB 1711, which is currently in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.  With this measure and budget efforts to follow key audit recommendations, I’ll look to tie state budget appropriations to a non-resident and resident enrollment ratio.  Further, I’ll look at strengthening the bill to set academic standards for non-resident students.”

Back in January Kevin McCarthy, who represents West Sacramento in addition to parts of Sacramento, and Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, introduced AB 1711.

As Assemblymember Medina put it, “Out-of-state and international students enhance college campuses by bringing a diversity of experiences and perspectives.  However, enrollment of nonresident students cannot come at the expense of access for Californians.”

In order to increase tuition revenue in the face of state funding shortfalls, the audit finds that “the university implemented two key procedural changes that encouraged campuses to maximize nonresident enrollment.”

UC’s efforts, the auditor wrote, “resulted in an 82 percent increase in nonresident enrollment from academic years 2010–11 through 2014–15, or 18,000 students, but coincided with a drop in resident enrollment by 1 percent, or 2,200 students, over that same time period.”

The math here is clear – the net result of this policy was an additional student enrollment of nearly 16,000. That meant universities like UC Davis were adding students in order to maintain funding levels.

As Janet Napolitano pointed out, “The State of California faces a dilemma that the draft report does not fully acknowledge. To maintain the quality of a public university system that virtually all agree is the finest in the world, sufficient funding must be found. Sources for this funding are limited.”

With state funds off the table and student tuition unpopular, nonresident tuition was the answer that they sought, where “the burden of which falls entirely on non-Californians.”

To counter this, last fall the state legislature offered the UC system an additional $25 million if they added another 10,000 in-state students, 5000 immediately and 5000 in 2018.

The result of these policies is playing a huge role in the local debates in Davis.  With UC Davis adding students, the city of Davis is facing a rental housing crisis that only figures to get worse, particularly since the solution offered UC is not to decrease enrollment but rather to increase in-state student enrollment.

But these policies handed down at the UC Regent and State Legislative level have local implications and UC Davis has thus far not been willing to accommodate the increased enrollment with more on-campus housing options.

As Councilmember Lucas Frerichs called it, rental housing “may even be the biggest issue facing Davis right now.”

Like others, he argued, “Make sure that the university puts some of the housing, if they’re going to continue to grow, put some of that housing on campus.”

But the question is how the city can convince UC Davis to step up in this respect, and what the city will do on their own end in the meantime. Councilmember Brett Lee offered that he “think[s] we should also build some additional apartments in the city. We have several proposals before us – most of the problems I have with them are size and scale. They can be scaled down. There haven’t been any large apartment complexes in quite some time.”

A housing crunch is not the only issue created by this policy.

The audit noted, “While underrepresented minorities—which the university considers to be Chicanos/Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians—represent 45 percent of California’s population, they make up 30 percent of the university’s overall undergraduate population.”

The audit found, “The university’s recent emphasis on enrolling more nonresidents has hampered its efforts to meet its own and the Legislature’s desire that the university’s student body reflect the diversity of the State.”

Recently, black students have protested on UC Davis and called for, among other things, the university to bring black student enrollment up to levels that are more reflective of their percentage of the state population.  Students have also pushed for more efforts to recruit students and faculty and retain those students who enroll.

But their small numerical population has led some students to suggest, including the former ASUCD President, that they feel “unsafe,” in addition to the expression of lack of comfort in the Davis community.  This has led to the call for the creation of “safe spaces” – a controversial concept.

The students articulately laid out their concerns: “Black representation at the UC has not increased from where it was twenty years ago. And while the rate of Black high school graduates in California has increased, there has only been a .3% increase in the enrollment of Black students into UC Davis since 2007.”

They continue, “Furthermore, since the passing of Prop 209 in 1994 that banned affirmative action, Black students have been underrepresented in the admissions pool with respect to our application numbers.”

They argue, “With low graduation rates (33% within 4 years for the 2010 cohort) and a small presence (3.2%), there is a critical need to retain and recruit Afrikan & Afrikan American students at UC Davis. Compared to Afrikan & Afrikan American students, white students’ performance level is 200% greater, demonstrating a distinct need to provide additional support.”

These complaints are directly rooted in UC Policies that have emphasized nonresident recruitment – which is seen as financially lucrative over recruitment and retention efforts of underrepresented populations – specifically: African American, Hispanic and American Indian.

The audit notes, “Although the university stated that nonresident enrollment serves to help residents by exposing them to students from geographically diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the campuses’ efforts to recruit nonresidents divert already limited resources from the recruitment of residents.”

Finally, the general discontent of the students feeling the crunch of tuition increases and general dissatisfaction has played a huge role in the occupation of Chancellor Katehi’s office on the fifth floor of Mrak Hall.

And, while some continue to argue that the occupation is being conducted by only a small group of students, that group of students has gained the support of various faculty members, ASUCD, labor groups and other voices on the campus and in the community.

From land use policies to general dissatisfaction, the audit report and the implications of the UC Policy on nonresidents and enrollment growth are having a huge impact on the local community.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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17 thoughts on “Commentary: UC’s Enrollment Policies Have Far-Reaching Local Implications”

  1. Tia Will

    Maybe UCD is indeed a leader in our society. We seem to be on the cutting edge of those who feel bullied. In yesterday’s Enterprise an individual who works at MRAK hall was quoted as saying ( as paraphrased by me) that the employees there felt “intimidated” by the presence of the protestors and that she wondered when this “bullying” would end.

    I suspect that those who are protesting at MRAK hall also feel bullied. Some of them probably feel, and not without substantiation given this audit, that they are being “financially bullied” just to get their education, which their parents are already paying for in terms of their taxes or which they will end up paying for in ever increasing loans. And, they are the lucky ones having gotten a slot at the university at all. This does not even begin to tap into the financial lifetime harm potentially done to those who qualify but were rejected so that that slot could go to someone who had to pay more.

    So no, the burden is not just being born by out of state and international students, but by the in state students rejected and their families who are paying for the public universities which are not serving their children.  If I sound a little disgruntled, it just may be because my qualified son was one who was not accepted. Maybe I am feeling a little bullied, although mugged might be more reflective of my feelings.

        1. UCD_stemfaculty

          Emily Prieto, who married Eric Tseregounis in Fall 2015, made $90,000+ in 2014, according to public records (look up Emily Prieto on  She was not even Chief of Staff of Student Affairs at the time.

          Katehi’s husband, Spyros Tseregounis, is a lecturer with security of employment, teaching Ethics in Engineering (ENG 190), which is a mandatory course for all Engineering undergraduate students.

          I am sure Katehi’s speech writers can find a diversity/gender card angle in both appointments.

  2. South of Davis

    Kevin McCarthy wrote:

    > the audit released today shows that not only is the UC wrong,

    > but the problem is much more severe than even I feared.

    The “problem” is much worse than most people fear.

    Just 50 years ago less than 10% of the people in America had a bachelors degree.  Today MORE than 50% of kids are going to college.

    Sure we have more jobs that “need” (and will pay for) a college degree, but “most” of the kids today are going in debt to get a job that does not “need” (or pay for) a college degree.

    P.S. One of my favorite Bloggers just happened to post this today:

    1. The Pugilist

      Kevin McCarty.  Kevin McCarthy is a whole other beast.

      I don’t understand your point about the large number of kids going to college, we live in a high tech, advanced industrial society now where the blue collar jobs have largely vanished.

  3. UCD_stemfaculty

    I would like to comment on the lack of affordable housing not only for students, but for faculty and staff. When I interviewed years ago, there seemed to be a concrete plan to establish West Village, which would offer eligible faculty and staff (from an unbiased waiting list) single family housing at a reduced price with respect to the Davis market, similarly to what is done at UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine. That did not happen, West Village has expensive rentals and a barren field for single family homes. Both my husband (staff) and me (faculty member from STEM) asked when the faculty/staff housing would be built. The answer was that “The contractor would not make any money”.

    We have finally given up on West Village, and we have hired a real estate agent to buy a house in town. Other house buyers and several real estate agents, including ours, have informed us that there are several people who buy $700k houses cash. Some come from the Bay Area, and some are wealthy parents from outside US whose children are UC Davis students.

    My family is doing reasonably well (I am a mid-career STEM faculty), however we can barely afford this housing market as it is. I feel very sorry that a large part of my UCD colleagues in staff positions with ~$50k yearly stipends will never be able to afford to live where they work. I assume that many employees of the city of Davis are in the same situation.

    This is not the way to build a healthy community.

    1. hpierce

      To be clear, I understand that the SF lots for West Village were not intended as “true” ownership units, but what is called “99 year leases”… that said, UCD Stem’s comments are ‘spot-on’…  do know of a SF 3BD, 2BA house in east Davis that recently sold for ~ $420 k… needs work, but did have some up-grades… owner-occupied, not a rental (any longer).

    2. Don Strong

      Indeed, I endorse UCD_STEMFACULTY statement and sentiment. Next time someone gets within question range of Katehi, the question should be, what changed between the time that the builder would have made money (when the streets and utilities were laid out) and now? And, what would have to change for the place to be built out; what change would be needed for the builder to make money?

      1. UCD_stemfaculty

        I would be happy with a 99 years lease for affordable housing. I toured 2 weeks ago a fixer-upper house on sale for $650k. The fixer-upper house prices have moved up considerably just in the past 6 months.

        In my family, we have two salaries and two kids, and we will be house poor whenever we succeed in buying this house. What would single parents working at UCD or at the City of Davis be able to afford in this town?

  4. Eileen Samitz


    Thanks for posting your comments on this issue. I understand your frustration and it simply boils down to UCD not prioritizing the need for on campus housing for the students as well as faculty and staff. They have instead prioritized building an art museum, a music recital center, and an International Student Center all currently under-construction, rather than on-campus student apartments and faculty and staff housing.

    Meanwhile, UC and UCD knew about the avalanche of students that they were going to be admitting for years now. They also knew that a large number of  them being out-of-state and international students which  would be needing housing, and should be on-campus. But instead of taking action, UCD did virtually nothing except renovate and expand some of the dorms to secure the freshman for the first year.  Then, the students would be forced out of the dorms after their first year to find housing elsewhere. This of course, would up being in our City causing the emergence of mini-dorms and absorbing a disproportionate amount of our rental housing for a small size of a city like ours.

    In any case, I agree with your concern about how West Village has been stalled for the faculty and staff housing as well as 1,000 more student beds which were supposed to be built. The main reason why the student housing is more often mentioned is because of the massive UCD student population (over 38,000 last fall) so the relative number of housing units or “beds” is much greater, relative to the faculty and staff housing needed, but it does not diminish the need for that housing as well. It is just that if UCD would simply build the significant number of student apartments on-campus that UCD committed to years ago (and they have over 5,000 acres to build it on) it would relieve pressure being deflected by UCD onto our City’s housing supply.

    If you are interested, we have formed a citizens group “Citizens for Responsible Planning” focused on addressing the lack of 0n-campus housing at UCD. You and anyone else you know with similar concerns can join us by emailing us at





    1. UCD_stemfaculty

      Thanks, Eileen, I am definitely going to check this citizens group.

      For the record, I was one of the invited female faculty at Katehi’s house back in 2014, during the time of the appeals to keep Orchard Park (family student housing along Russell and HWY 113) open. At this dinner, there was a talk about providing better mentors for our graduate students. I asked the group and Katehi: “How about providing affordable housing?”, and brought up the unreasonably high rental cost of a to-be-privatized Orchard Park, which would particularly affect the livelihood of graduate students with families (not an insignificant number). The salary of a graduate student is around $1,500 (49% FTE) and the rents were supposed to increase to $1,500 from the ~$900 subsidized rents.

      Katehi replied that she does not want to subsidize graduate student family housing because some of them are rich.

      I could not think of a sensible answer to such a senseless and completely out-of-touch statement. This was said in front of many female faculty, some of which have signed the letter published in the Davis Enterprise in support of Katehi.

      1. The Pugilist

        “Katehi replied that she does not want to subsidize graduate student family housing because some of them are rich.”

        This is definitely part of the problem.  Graduate students are not rich and if there are some who are, they are in the extreme minority.

        1. UCD_stemfaculty

          I do not know graduate students who are rich, at least in the subset of students I talk with, in STEM. I had a PhD student with family who lived at Orchard Park. The very few, if any, rich graduate students would not live in Orchard Park or in Solano Park. Orchard Park has been fenced up for almost 2 years, and Solano Park is slated to be demolished in favor of the new Museum parking.

          I meet sometimes graduate students of the professional schools at my child’s school. One of them was graduating with a Law degree, and he had a huge loan to repay ahead of him. Not rich.

  5. Eileen Samitz


    Thanks again for your comments and I have been trying to find out more about when Solano Park is to be closed. It was to be this year but not sure if that has changed. As you pointed out, Orchard Park has been closed for two years. What a complete waste of time and housing has been lost for that time as well as income to UCD. And also, how much longer will it be closed. No company would close a housing complex and do nothing with it, including not have a plan to renovate or redevelop it because of the loss of revenue. It may be 4 years or longer before Orchard Park reopens.

    Instead of having a plan BEFORE closing Orchard Park, they started planning AFTER closing it. I don’t know if they even have a plan yet for Orchard Park and if they do it needs to be MUCH more densified and expanded. The premature closing of Orchard Park just created more UCD housing needs deflected onto our City exacerbating the already bad situation caused by UCD’s negligence. It would be astonishing if UCD closes Solano Park now too, removing even more on-campus housing when they have not even started re-developing Orchard Park.

    UCD clearly has poor management and a lack of planning problem which needs to be rectified now. Their negligence is causing all of these housing problems for the students, faculty, and staff, and to our community while it is also negatively impacting our City planning. Please email our citizens group at to learn more about us and how we are working on this critical issue and pass the word to others who are concerned.


  6. Frankly

    “The State of California faces a dilemma that the draft report does not fully acknowledge. To maintain the quality of a public university system that virtually all agree is the finest in the world, sufficient funding must be found. Sources for this funding are limited.”

    Some points here.

    Certainly the changing constitutions from the state budget have had an impact.   Higher ed comprised 10.3 percent of the state budget in 2007-08, but just 7 percent by 2012; it rose to 8.7 percent in the recently enacted 2015-16 budget.

    But the Great Recession is over, so why isn’t the state returning the same percent of general fund monies to state colleges?

    It all comes down to unsustainable government cost primarily resulting from top-heavy personnel bloat and excessive employee pay and benefits and contract labor costs (that are conveniently inflated by government to keep contract labor costly)… and the cost of dealing with our out of control immigration.

    On the unsustainable government employee costs, one main culprit is our California prison system… and the union that runs it and calls controls much of the levers and switches of the Democrat-controlled California State government… the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (“CCPOA”).

    In 1980 the California Corrections and Rehabilitation budget consumed 3.23% of the state budget.  It peaked at the peak of the Great Recession (cannot let those prisoners out even though revenue falls) at 11.45% of the general fund budget.  Today it has semi-stabilized to about 8.5% of the state general fund budget.

    Of course some of that cost increase follows the increase in the number of convicts held in California prisons.  Ironically, it has been CCPOA that has spend millions on political campaigns and measures to support more tough-on-crime measures, and to defeat those that would serve to lower the population of prisoners and thus threaten a reduction in the need for correction employees.

    In addition to the increased spending on corrections, there has also been a tremendous increase in K-12 public school spending.  Of course the education establishment and their political friends like to point to the more recent spending per student measure.  In fact, the Internet is suspiciously flooded with reports on this… needing the latter pages of a Google search to get to resources that report overall spending trends.  Yes, spending per student has fallen a bit since the Great Recession, but it had steadily risen before that. The real measure of the State’s increase in spending on K-12 is the percent of the state’s general fund budget.

    K-12 spending was about 27% of the state’s general fund budget in the 77-78 school year (before Prop-13) and expectantly jumped to 38% the next year.  But it continued to grow from there… and now sits at 44% of the state’s general fund budget for the 2016-17 school year.

    There are several things that have contributed to this growth in Corrections and K-12 education spending as a percent of budget… that have led to a corresponding cut to state spending on higher-learning.  But of those there are two primary reasons:

    The first is hyper-inflationary cost per unit of public sector labor caused by the corrupt political partnership of labor unions and the state Democrat political machine.
    The second is the decades of floods of poor and uneducated people from south of the border and their kids… primarily into California… and conveniently supported by the public sector labor unions and the state Democrat political machine.

    California has six times the number of Hispanics than it did in 1970. In 2015 Hispanics overtook whites as the majority race. 20% of those are illegal immigrants including their children… and then there are the children here born to illegal immigrants.

    And this shift has contributed to more prisoners and more difficult to education students… and higher State costs for these things.

    For example, as of the 2014-15 school year, there are 1.4 million English learner students in California’s K-12.. almost 25% of the entire student body.  Another 2.7 million speak another primary language other than English.  For the 1980-81 school year this percentage was less than half as much.

    So public-sector unions with their bought and paid-for Democrat politicians continue to bloat and over-pay government labor while ensuring we keep the flood gates open for more poor and under-educated Hispanics that tend to vote Democrat and keep the gravy train going.  Less state money for California higher learning is only one of the many negative consequences of these two things.  The way to stop the madness is to first kill the public sector unions.  Good luck with that!

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