Record Low Acceptance Rate of California Residents to UC System


Californians are having a tougher time getting into the University of California. Not only was the number of applicants higher this year, but also there is a record number of out-of-state and foreign students who received offers of admission, writes Larry Gordon of the Los Angeles Times.

Of the 103,117 California applicants, about 60% were offered a spot at one of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses, according to the university. This number seems to be a record low acceptance rate compared to last year’s 63% of 99,955 applicants and around 79% in 1999, which are the oldest figures available.

The interest in the public university system is so high, says Stephen Handel, UC Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Admissions, that in spite of the fact that the 61,834 Californians accepted to UC were about 1,000 fewer than last year, he believes the number of California freshman will remain at about the same level as in the past year. Also, the ethnic numbers continue to move away from whites toward Asians and Latinos.

The pursuit of the extra tuition charged to non-resident students has been part of an ongoing debate. A promise from UC President Janet Napolitano to not increase the number of out-of-state students at UC Berkeley and UCLA, two very selective campuses, seems to have been kept. The past increase of students from other states, about 30%, is what has sparked controversy among legislators and families.

Now, UC Irvine, San Diego, and Davis have offered entrance to a significantly higher number of non-Californians, but these schools may not attract as many students from other states and countries as UCLA and Berkeley. Even though there is room for more students at UC Irvine, there is not enough state funding to handle any more Californians. The out-of-state and international student tuition does cover the costs of having the these students enrolled, but, according to UC Irvine spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon:

“Even if we took no more out-of-state and international students, we would not be able to take more Californians.”

The state budget pact has frozen tuition for California residents for two more years. Students from other states will be facing a 5% cost increase and will pay $36,900 next year, while resident tuition will be $12,200. Nonresidents pay a surcharge of $24,000 each year plus the $12,804 tuition and fees charged to California residents.

Napolitano is facing pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to increase California freshman enrollment and enrollment of transfer students for the fall semester beginning in 2016.

Across the UC system, the university accepted 2.7% more applicants than in 2014, while UC Davis stayed at the same number of acceptances, according to Diana Lambert reporting for The Sacramento Bee.

“In April the president announced that unless we get more state funding for enrollment, we were going to keep enrollment flat, and that is what we’ve done,” Dianne Klein, spokeswoman for the University of California said, referring to statements by UC President Janet Napolitano. She said UC kept its pledge not to increase the number of nonresident students admitted to the flagship campuses of UC Berkeley and UCLA this year.

Only three campuses, Merced, Riverside, and San Diego, enrolled more Californians than a year ago, says Lisa Leff for the Associated Press. The California budget for this fiscal year, which began this week, put aside a $25 million incentive for the university system if it accepts 5,000 more in-state undergraduates for the 2016-2017 school year.

“As a majority-minority state, where one in two children under the age of 18 is Latino, we simply cannot meet our economic or workforce needs without ensuring significantly more Latino and black students are admitted to the UC, including flagship institutions like UCLA and UC Berkeley,” Campaign for College Opportunity President Michele Siqueiros said.

At this time, Latinos from California make up a greater proportion of resident students who are accepted to UC schools, but enrollment is so slow that it does not increase their numbers at a majority of the campuses.