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Revision of UC-wide enrollment goals may impact fund distribution

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By Alexia Boyarsky and Kristen Taketa

Feb. 12, 2013 12:26 a.m.

For the first time in five years, the University of California will decide how many more students – and how many of what kind of students – it will enroll for the remainder of the decade.

These enrollment goals are necessary for implementing the new UC budget model known as rebenching, which allocates state funds to each UC campus based on the number of students enrolled.

Previously, state money was distributed based on complicated algorithms, with some campuses receiving more per-student state funding than others.

Now, under rebenching, the University is aiming to level out the amount of per-student state funding among all campuses.

By setting goals for future enrollment, the University can plan how it will equalize the amount of per-student funding over the next several years.

UC officials are expected to set the long-term enrollment goals by June after considering campus input, said Todd Greenspan, interim chief-of-staff to Aimée Dorr, UC executive vice president for academic affairs. The setting of these goals will complete the final step of the UC’s three-part budget reform plan.

Turning a corner

The UC last updated its systemwide goals in 2008. The 2008 plan called for an increase in the number of graduate students, since more than a million new job positions in California will require graduate degrees, according to a UC Office of the President report.

The plan also prioritized increasing enrollment at UC Riverside and UC Merced, the University’s two smallest campuses that are situated in underserved communities.

For years, UC student enrollment had grown at a rate of 2.5 percent, but that rate recently dropped to around 1 percent, Greenspan said. He added this was likely since resources from the state to the UC started to decrease, and the number of graduating California high school students began to decline, according to the California Department of Finance.

But now that the economy is slowly coming around and the Proposition 30 state tax measure passed, the UC is looking to update its enrollment goals, Greenspan said.

“We’re hopeful, now that the state’s turned a corner a little on finances with (Proposition 30), there will be money … to have a chance to grow to meet California’s needs,” he said.

The UC will continue to focus on the needs outlined in the 2008 plan as it develops its enrollment goals for the next seven years, Greenspan said.

Enrollment at home

UCLA is in the early stages of setting enrollment targets, said university spokesman Phil Hampton.

The university is currently gathering a committee of administrators, and representatives from budget and admissions boards to determine how many students the university’s resources can currently support and attempt to balance enrollment targets for different types of students, Hampton said.

Enrollment targets will be submitted to UCOP in April, and they will be reviewed and revised if necessary, he said.

UCLA will set targets to maintain enrolling California students, despite a current focus on enrolling out-of-state students to supplement UC funding, said Neal Garrett, chair of the UCLA Council on Planning and Budget.

“At least from the faculty standpoint, there’s a pretty strong commitment to not seeing a reduction in resident students,” Garrett said.

He said resident students may benefit from the revised enrollment targets because the university can look at factors such as the number of beds available in dormitories and the number of classes it offers each quarter to determine how many students its faculty and facilities can support, while still maintaining the academic standards of the school.

Budget implications

Though it is standard for UC campuses to set long-term enrollment targets, determining enrollment goals this year is vital to the implementation of a new UC model for doling out state funds to the campuses, Hampton said.

The rebenching model allocates state funds to the UC campuses based on the enrollment targets for different types of students, but this funding does not extend to out-of-state undergraduate students. Under rebenching, there is a possibility that UCLA could receive less state funding if it does not meet resident undergraduate enrollment targets.

This measure has not been implemented yet, but it has been discussed as a way to incentivize campuses to maintain resident enrollment, said Jean-Bernard Minster, chair of the UC Committee on Planning and Budget.

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