Trustees debate international cap amidst steady enrollment decline

Trustees+debate+international+cap+amidst+steady+enrollment+decline

Lucy Marx, News Editor

As enrollment continues to drop, causing classes to be canceled, the Board of Trustees voted Thursday to keep the current policy of a 1,500 cap for international students and discussed increasing tuition for out-of-state students.

Trustees reviewed and debated the current cap on international students enrolled at the school, which is currently set at a maximum of 1,500 students. International students bring in more revenue for the college and increase numbers, but community members are often opposed to out-of-town students.

“I’m not wanting to give the impression that we are in any way unwelcoming to international students,” said Trustee Marsha Croninger. 

Croninger pointed out that as overall enrollment drops, the 1,500 cap on international students becomes a larger percentage of the student population. When compared to the current enrollment, the number would be over 11% of all students. 

Croninger suggested measuring the international students by percentage, with the cap at 8%. 

Multiple board members agreed that the counting method should be changed, and Trustee Veronica Gallardo suggested that both a percentage and a number be used. 

“I propose… that we just do away with the cap,” said Trustee Craig Nielson. 

Gallardo continued to push for further discussion to reach a compromise. 

“I think we have to find a happy medium,” she said. 

After over 15 minutes of debate, the board voted 5-2 to keep the policy as is, with Gallardo and Croninger opposing.  

“Sometimes when the outcome is negligent or nonsignificant it’s better to just do nothing,” said Board Vice President Peter Haslund. 

With the beginning of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the state requires each community college to establish a nonresident tuition fee for the following academic year. 

The board is given seven options to choose from and the district is recommending a total non-resident tuition fee of $306 per unit.

“I’m just bothered by how much this increase would impact enrollment because right now we are down on enrollment,” said Student Trustee Kenny Igbechi.

We have to use one of the options,” Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami said. “So in some sense, our hands are tied. Do we go for the highest one or the slightly lower one?”

The Board of Trustees will return to this item and approve the non-resident tuition fee during its next meeting on Feb. 13.