For generations, the notion of an enrollment cap for public universities has long been the third rail of higher education politics - something nobody has wanted to touch.
But a special provision in State House's spending proposal, released last weeks, dares to go there. It suggest a 1 percent cap on enrollment at the state's public universities, an unprecedented notion that has university leaders vexed.
Though plenty of other fiscally-challenged states are turning to enrollment caps or are even lowering student headcount, the idea is a tough one here in North Carolina, which has long held two core education principles dear: access and affordability.
But the House budget writers who broached the cap say it is a necessary step in order to provide some better enrollment planning.