Requirements for UC Eligibility Overhauled

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With the new eligibility requirements approved by the UC Board of Regents on Thursday, future students will face competition from a larger number of qualified applicants coupled with fewer guaranteed spots at the university.

UC officials say the new eligibility requirements, which will go into effect with students applying for fall 2012, would offer a more comprehensive application review and eliminate the SAT subject test requirement.

"Under the old policy, we were missing a lot of great students with high GPAs because they were ineligible for technical reasons," said Mark Rashid, chair of the Academic Senate's Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, in an e-mail. "The main point of the new policy is to stop doing that."

However, some critics say giving 12,000 fewer students guaranteed admission to at least one campus could counter the benefits of increased eligibility. Currently, all eligible students are guaranteed admission to at least one campus, which will no longer be the case under the new plan.

"There are all sorts of unintended consequences that we have to be prepared for," said UC Regent Judith Hopkinson, the sole regent to abstain from Thursday's vote.

Only the top 10 percent of California's graduating seniors will be offered guaranteed admission, down from 12.5 percent.

"If they are not a part of that guaranteed subset, they would not be guaranteed admission, but they would have a shot at presenting their case that they have what it takes to be accepted," said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

The top 10 percent will be a combination of students who rank in either the top nine percent statewide, or in the top nine percent of their high school class.

Regents also passed the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan on Thursday, which will cover all systemwide fees for students who come from households that earn less than $60,000.

With the eligibility requirement changes, admissions offices are expecting the number of applications at most campuses to jump 12 to 17 percent, an increase UC officials say would make admissions more competitive, and would cost more due to the hiring of additional readers.

"It won't affect anyone here at Berkeley," said Susanna Castillo-Robson, associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment at UC Berkeley. She added that UC Berkeley's already competitive 20 percent admission rate is not expected to change significantly with the policy.

The pool of total students eligible for review would increase by about 60 percent under the new policy, according to a study conducted by the Committee on Educational Policy.

Student Regent D'Artagnan Scorza said that the competition will create more opportunities for qualified underrepresented students.

"We're reducing enrollment and there's going to be less slots," he said. "But what it's going to do is it is going to give us a stronger degree of quality."

But Ilene Abrams, a college adviser at Berkeley High School, said she doubts whether the changes will significantly increase admission rates of minority students.

"The new plan gives admissions officers more flexibility," she said. "Which could be a good thing or bad thing."

Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the non-profit organization Campaign for College Opportunity, said continuing to limit capacity-especially following the regents' decision to decrease freshmen enrollment by 2,300-could put a strain on other schools that are already stressed.

"My biggest concern is that we are limiting capacity and there might be this expectation that the community colleges would serve these students," she said.


Contact Alexandra Wilcox at [email protected]

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