UC to Scale Back Fall Enrollment Reductions

A Waitlist System for Freshmen Could Allow Each Campus to Achieve Its Enrollment Targets

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Discussion over undergraduate freshman admission and the University's decision to cut freshmen enrollment.


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The University of California will reduce a previously-approved enrollment cut for Fall 2010 entering freshmen due to proposed increases in state funds for the university, UC officials said Thursday.

The UC Board of Regents had previously decided to cut freshman enrollment by 2,300 for the second year in a row. The exact level of reduction of the cut has yet to be determined, but the university will implement a waitlist-to be adopted at the discretion of individual campuses-to meet enrollment targets as closely as possible.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed state budget includes a restoration of $370 million to the university, including $51.3 million designated specifically to fund nearly 5,000 currently unfunded enrollments. The move prompted officials to increase the number of freshman enrollments, according to Nina Robinson, UC director of student policy and external affairs.

"We believe that the combination of his restoration of some of our funding and his constitutional amendment are all signs that Sacramento is beginning to realize it needs to reinvest in higher education," she said.

While the university's state budget allocation for 2010-11 could change in the coming months as the state budget is revised and approved by the Legislature, university officials remain confident.

"The governor has made specific initiative in regards to enrollment and we want to support that (by increasing enrollment)," Robinson said.

However, the faith university officials have shown in increased state investment in public higher education has not led to discussion on reducing student fees, which were raised by 32 percent last November.

"It is just not even possible to consider that right now," she said. "Our budget situation is so dire that I can't imagine that fee rollbacks are a possibility."

UC Regent Leslie Schilling suggested during Wednesday's regents' meeting that the board consider a reversal of the fee increase. Other regents and UC officials oppose the idea because the state budget is not yet finalized and UC finances are still "up in the air" according to Robinson.

The waitlist will serve as a tool to ensure that the university hits its enrollment targets and avoids additional budget cuts. Each campus creates estimates to determine what percentage of students it accepts will likely enroll at the school.

Individual campus estimates are used to determine funding for a variety of campus services, including how many courses to offer and how many faculty should be hired, according to Walter Robinson, UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor and director of admissions.

"When we make these decisions we need to make sure we are economically responsible by not under-enrolling or over-enrolling," he said.

Waitlists are common at private universities, which are more dependent on student tuition.

At Cornell University, where many of the students who are admitted end up going to other universities, waitlists are used to allow the university room to meet its enrollment estimate, according to Doris Davis, Cornell University associate provost for admissions and enrollment.

"Since students apply to more than one college or university, there is no way to know which students will decide to enroll at a specific college or university," she said in an e-mail. "Fundamentally, the waitlist will help the college or university to reach its enrollment goal."

In past years UC Berkeley has traditionally come within 2 percentage points of its own enrollment estimate, meaning that the campus may not need to adopt the waitlist-although a final decision will be made by March at the latest, Walter Robinson said.

"The demand for enrollment at universities that happen to hold reputation of prominence, as is the case in Berkeley, is, in the whole, higher," he said.

Mihir Zaveri of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Tags: WAITLIST, UC BOARD OF REGENTS


Javier Panzar covers higher education.Contact him at [email protected]



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