If a proposal to raise the 18 percent cap on out-of-state students passes next month, the University could have to adjust to a growth spurt.
But the potential uptick in enrollment has some leaders worried UNC might not be able to accommodate a larger student body.
The UNC-system Board of Governors discussed a proposal last week to raise the cap by appealing mainly to international students. The proposal would hold harmless the number of in-state students.
The debated policy is part of the system’s five-year strategic plan, which will be voted on at the board’s February meeting.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney said administrators must consider how a larger student body would affect demands for space, faculty, courses, and advising services.
“Every dimension would be affected by more students,” he said, adding that the enrollment increase would benefit students by leading to more courses offered.
Student Body President Will Leimenstoll said the issue needs to be considered carefully.
“The way I look at it is, we need to see if the benefits balance the possible costs that go along with the changes,” he said.
He said students can find value in interacting with peers from across the country and the world.
And Carney said the University doesn’t have as many international students as its peer institutions.
But Leimenstoll said the policy could incite reactions from state residents.
“The increase in the amount of out-of-state students could be around 20 percent or 25 percent, which could change perspectives on the school and make it appear less loyal to the state,” he said.
But, he said, the specter of budget cuts has led administrators to consider surpassing the cap as a revenue-boosting measure.
“We are uncertain about how much money the state will be committing, and it is possible people are unfortunately worried the state will back away so they have to find money somewhere else,” he said.
Before deciding to raise the cap, much more research and analysis must be done concerning how to accommodate more students, said Dwayne Pinkney, vice provost of finance and academic planning.
He said a major concern is whether the added tuition money would be enough to cover the cost of accommodating more students.
“Assuming that enrollments would increase, yes, revenues would definitely increase,” he said. “The remaining question, however, is whether net revenues would increase.”
But Carney said even if the cap was lifted, the change in enrollment numbers would not be dramatic.
“Qualitatively, it will work — if we do not take more students than we can handle,” he said.
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