Universities seeking to enroll more out-of-state students to maximize tuition revenue might be given more leeway if the UNC-system Board of Governors decides to alter its review process for enrollment.
Members of the board have discussed changing the process of reviewing enrollment numbers to every three years instead of two, which would help universities control their enrollment numbers better, said David Young, a member of the board.
No new policies have been implemented, but the board might discuss it at meetings later this year, he said.
The extra year would help all UNC-system schools balance their enrollment numbers so they don’t exceed their 18 percent out-of-state enrollment cap for incoming freshmen.
“They could make a conservative effort to drop enrollment in the third year,” Young said.
The review discussion comes after the board waived UNC-CH’s $334,652 fine for exceeding its 18 percent cap for out-of-state students in the fall of 2010 and 2011. UNC-CH — the only university to exceed the cap last year — accepted about 24 students more than what is allowed.
Last month, the board’s budget and finance committee, led by Young, made the recommendation to waive the fee, and the board voted unanimously to do so, citing the financial instability as one of its reasons for dropping the fine.
More students are now considered out-of-state because of state legislation that classifies Morehead-Cain scholars and athletes on scholarships as out-of-state students, which factored into the board’s decision to waive the fine, he said.
“It was unfair in my mind to penalize them on something that they have little control over,” Young said. “It is an act of science to try to maximize the number of out-of-state students because they bring in more revenue.”
He also said it would be unfair for the board to charge the fine in light of recent budget cuts. The UNC system absorbed a 15.6 percent reduction in state funding, or $414 million, last year.
“I thought with the budgets, for us, the Board of Governors, to pile on it, was just unfair and not in the right tone of what we are trying to get our universities to be about,” Young said.
Jim Deal, a member of the board, said the board needs to change the review time so universities are not penalized when they exceed the cap.
“The fairest thing to an institution is to look at an average over a period of years,” Deal said. “It gives you a better snap shot to stay within 18 percent.”
Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost at UNC-CH, said he would support the change.
“A three year rolling average would make some sense,” he said.
Carney said the money the University would have used to pay the enrollment fine will now be used in another way that has not yet been determined.
“Since we don’t have to pay that, we will put it to some other good use,” he said.
Carney said the University’s admissions office strives to admit as many out-of-state students as they can without exceeding the 18 percent cap, but it is hard to determine how many students will enroll.
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