N.C. A&T State University may be allowed to enroll more out-of-state students next year in a pilot program being considered by the UNC system’s governing board.
On Thursday, a committee of the UNC Board of Governors approved a plan to raise the board’s limit on out-of-state freshmen from 18 percent to 25 percent at the historically black university in Greensboro. The full board is expected to vote on the proposal Friday.
The higher cap on out-of-state students comes in response to enrollment challenges at A&T, which has struggled to fill seats with qualified North Carolina residents but has a healthy demand from qualified out-of-state students.
The Greensboro campus already had the latitude to admit more than 18 percent out-of-state students in its engineering program. But if the new proposal is adopted, the university would be able to enroll up to 25 percent out-of-state students in its freshman class next year as an experiment. After one year, university officials would study the impact of the decision, and could extend it up to four years.
The idea has been politically unpalatable in a state with a tradition of strong taxpayer support for public higher education.
The vote on Thursday was not without disagreement. One board member, Marty Kotis, voted against it, saying he thought it would run afoul of the state constitution’s provision to provide North Carolinians with low-cost higher education.
“The university system’s primary mission is to educate the citizens of the state,” he said.
N.C. A&T Chancellor Harold Martin said enrollment is declining systemwide, especially among African Americans. Competition for those students is intense among all the state universities, including five historically black campuses. All but one of the historically black campuses experienced enrollment declines last fall.
Martin said the new policy on out-of-state students wouldn’t hurt North Carolinians.
“We will not deny admission to any qualified student in-state to our university to admit an out-of-state student,” he said.