UC to Admit All Eligible Students

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A decision has been reached to offer all students who meet eligibility requirements admission into the University of California for the next school year, prompting cuts in other areas in order to meet state budget constraints.

University officials announced yesterday that despite the limited funding posed by the state's estimated $16 billion budget deficit, every eligible member of the record-high 121,005 undergraduate applicant class for fall 2008 will be offered admission into the university.

"We're doing this because we have a strong increase in undergraduate applicants this year, including those among underrepresented communities, and we feel that it is our obligation to continue meeting our commitment to students under the (California Master Plan for Higher Education)," said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

The university received more than a 7 percent increase in undergraduate applicants for fall 2008, up from 110,994 applicants for fall 2007.

The university's announcement comes after UC Riverside and UC Merced have sent out some decisions, Vazquez said. The other campuses, including UC Berkeley, are slated to send admissions decisions through the end of March.

Members of student recruitment and retention centers on campus expressed relief at the decision.

"I'm glad this is something we can keep for this year," said Brian Pacheco, programs director for bridges Multicultural Resource Center.

Yet, to make up for the decrease in funding proposed by the state, university officials said there will likely be cuts in other areas.

Under budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the university's share of the General Fund would be cut by a net amount of approximately $110 million for the next fiscal year.

Although the state budget will not be finalized until the spring, the university's proposed allocation is $417 million short of the UC Board of Regents' proposed budget for next year.

Though eligible students will be guaranteed a place at one of the university's 10 campuses, officials said it is likely that fewer students will be admitted to their first-choice campus in comparison to previous years.

Other options to reduce spending are being considered, such as student fee increases, increases in class sizes, reductions in campus services and employee pay freezes, among other things.

In addition, UC officials said the university may not increase enrollments for the 2009-10 academic year unless greater state support is guaranteed for more students.

The university is currently overenrolled with a total of 220,000 students. According to the state Legislative Analyst's Office's recommendations, the university would likely only receive state funding for next year's overenrolled students, not this year's.

Patrick Lenz, vice president for budget at the UC Office of the President, said he would be concerned if the state decides to not provide funds to cover increased enrollment.

"It almost feels like we're being penalized by saying those costs that you incurred (for over-enrolled students) are in your budget," Lenz said.

Both UC officials and students said that while fall 2008's UC-eligible applicants will see positive outcomes, the problem of over-enrolled students will likely persist in future academic years.

"In one respect it does alleviate some concerns, but if an enrollment increase doesn't happen ... it really worries me that it will hurt access to higher education even further for underrepresented students," Pacheco said.


Angelica Dongallo covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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