Correction: A previous version of this story referred to UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla as “Prapeet” Khosla. The Sun editorial board apologizes for this error.
A vocal group of Southwestern College educators have said applications to UCSD should come with a disclaimer—local students need not apply.
Fewer students from SWC and other community colleges in San Diego County were accepted by UCSD this year. SWC acceptances are down by nearly half. This marks another year of a decade-long trend of fewer transfers.
UCSD Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla attended a town hall meeting with SWC administrators and faculty recently and offered no viable reason for the low numbers. When questioned about the declining number of students from SWC transferring to UCSD, Khosla accused dissenters of “throwing rocks in public.”
SWC Counselor Norma Cazares said the topic is urgent and needs to be addressed. She said community colleges of San Diego and Imperial Counties suffered a 23 percent decrease in successful student transfers to UCSD last year. SWC had a one-year drop of 44 percent, the 10th straight year in decline. She said the effects of UCSD’s admissions policy are far-reaching and a threat to the livelihood of the South Bay, something she considers to be in conflict with the California Higher Education Master Plan established in 1960.
San Diego County’s public universities—UCSD and SDSU—have acknowledged accepting fewer students from the county and substituting them for foreign students, which pay much higher tuition and fees, and out-of-region students that need student housing. Both universities have recently built expensive new dormitories and other forms of student housing.
“We need to move away from viewing this as an SWC issue and recognize it as a regional issue,” Cazares said.
Cazares said the entire South County would suffer. If local students are not getting the education needed to become productive and employable members of society, it could bring down the local economy and quality of living, she said. Under-represented students would also be without access to higher education.
In the 1980s many UC campuses instituted the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG), a program developed to support access for under-represented African-American, Latino and Native-American students. After many attempts to do away with TAG, UCSD officials cited an internal policy against awarding transfers based on regional preferences and eliminated TAG earlier this year. It was replaced with University Link, which awards access based on the same regional preferences not allowed for the TAG program.
California colleges and universities were hit hard by the Great Recession, said Cazares. Some UC and CSU campuses decided to accept fewer students from their own service area to create seats for students from China, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and other wealthy nations.
“I think there needs to be some sort of accountability or responsibility to area students,” she said. “There was a need to generate revenue and UCSD chose to balance its budget on the backs of the local area community college students.”
SWC Governing Board Member Humberto Peraza agreed and said the UCSD actions are unacceptable. Blocking access for local students is a concern for the entire San Diego region, he said.
When the local area loses more than 200 applicants and UCSD increases enrollment from Los Angeles by 400, it makes you wonder where the focus is, said Peraza.
“They are choosing to be a Los Angeles school,” he said. “They will become the University of California except San Diego.”
Peraza said he appreciated Khosla attending the meeting in South Bay and he said he is optimistic the conversation will result in something substantial.
“I think Khosla is someone we can work with,” he said. “We need to educate him about the issues and why (UCSD) needs to do a better job.”
Peraza said UCSD and SDSU should be accommodating, or at least work with, the local colleges and high schools, to ensure students get into regional universities. Peraza said he hopes UCSD is not placing revenue generation above the education of regional students.
“Universities create diversity,” said Peraza. “When it solely relies on the exclusion of your local students, it’s not something that you want to do.”