A UNC-system proposal to raise the out-of-state enrollment cap has found an unexpected proponent — one of the system’s smaller schools.
At their January meeting, some Board of Governors members supported raising the 18 percent cap on out-of-state and international student enrollment in discussions about the system’s proposed five-year strategic plan.
Lifting the cap could generate revenue for campuses, but enrollment would also necessarily increase since the number of in-state students would remain the same. Critics also say the proposal would detract from the system’s mission to educate state residents.
Larger universities in the system have historically brushed up against the cap, but North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University almost doubled the percentage last year.
Out-of-state students made up 31.4 percent of the school’s 2012 freshman class. N.C. A&T is the system’s only school that exceeded the cap in 2012.
“We think we can raise the cap without hurting in-state students,” said Wanda Lester, N.C. A&T’s associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.
N.C. A&T accepted a larger incoming class in order to increase its overall student body size, but fewer in-state students offered admission chose to enroll, Lester said.
But N.C. A&T does not want to continue enrolling such a large amount of out-of-state students, she said.
Last year, out-of-state enrollment ranged from 3 percent to 31.4 percent on various UNC-system campuses.
The system fined UNC-Chapel Hill $158,225 for exceeding the cap in 2011. Out-of-state students consisted of 16.6 percent of UNC-CH’s 2012 freshman class.
Other large public university systems, such as the University of California system, are also considering a higher out-of-state enrollment cap to generate revenue.
“For every 1,000 non-resident students, the university gets an additional $23 million dollars,” said Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for the UC system.
UC-system schools currently set their own targets for out-of-state enrollment. But out-of-state enrollment systemwide cannot exceed 10 percent — a cap the system will likely increase, Klein said.
Despite the potential to increase revenue by enrolling more out-of-state students, UNC-Pembroke, another smaller UNC-system school, consistently maintains a low out-of-state enrollment.
UNC-P enrolled the lowest number of out-of-state freshmen in the system — 3 percent — in 2012.
UNC-P Provost Ken Kitts said the university is not paying much attention to the enrollment cap debate.
“We’re a regional university that exists to serve the state of North Carolina,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t welcome out-of-state students … It has just never been a focal point of our recruitment effort.”
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