UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks Discusses Tuition, Out-of-State Students

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UC Berkeley students march through campus as part of an 'open university' strike in solidarity with the Occupy movement in November 2011. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

These are not the calmest of days for the University of California. Late last week, students protesting tuition increases approved in November shut down entrances to the Santa Cruz campus. And  the ongoing standoff between Gov. Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano over those hikes took another turn recently when Napolitano threatened to freeze enrollment of California residents at all campuses and of out-of-state residents at Berkeley and Los Angeles. The freeze is especially significant given  that UC has experienced an increase in applications 11 years in a row.

Despite the  protests and politicking, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks addressed tuition and admission policies during his appearance on KQED's Forum. Here are some highlights:

On UC Berkeley's Increase in Out-of-State Students:

"At Berkeley itself, we have had over the last 10 years just about the same number of California students. We haven't reduced that number at all, even as we have been increasing out-of-state students. So we have roughly 21,000 in-state students from California. And that number has remained, plus or minus very small percentages, the same. We have increased our out-of-state enrollment.

"And of course one thing that out-of-state enrollment shows us is that there are a lot of students across the country, and indeed across the world, who would pay 2½ times as much in tuition without the same kind of advantages of financial aid to attend the University of California at Berkeley.

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"The University of Michigan has 40 percent out-of-state [students], University of Virginia has 40 percent out-of-state [students]. Great universities that have been in states where similar levels of disinvestment have taken place have taken that route. We've tried not to. We have kept control over the increase in our out-of-state students, because obviously we want to have as many California students as possible.

"But you know, (given) levels of current funding, we have been obliged to think about out-of-state students not only because it diversifies the student body pool and brings incredibly interesting people from across the nation and across the world, but also it helps to pay financial aid for California students, making it more accessible for them."

On the Cost of Tuition:

 "We are well aware of the fact that students would like to pay no tuition at all and that many people in California remember the good old days when the state paid effectively for the university, in a way that didn't mean that tuition bills were at all significant. Tuition has gone up dramatically over the last few years.

"But by the same token, we've had a tuition freeze for the three years. We at Berkeley have a financial aid system in which almost all the students who come from families making up to $150,000 will not be affected by any increase in tuition."

You can listen to the complete interview below: