UC Reaches Record-High Numbers in Applicants

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A Record Number of Applications Received

Emma Anderson and Aaida Samad analyze the recently released statistics of those who have applied to the University of California for next fall.

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Amid growing concern that the state's declining funding for higher education and recently proposed cuts to the university will limit enrollment, the University of California received a record number of applications for next fall, with multiple campuses achieving milestones in terms of out-of-state, transfer and international applicants.

The university received a total of 142,235 applications for fall 2011 - a 6.1 percent increase from the previous fall - according to a report released by the UC Office of the President Jan. 14. The applications included a 5.7 percent increase in freshman-level applications and a 7.3 percent increase in transfer applications.

The report was released days before UC President Mark Yudof commented at a UC Board of Regents meeting that the university may have to turn away qualified students due to state funding cuts.

But, UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said that while the time is fast approaching when the university will not be able to enroll all eligible California students, for this year at least, the UC "intends to find a place for every UC-eligible California applicant."

The number of non-resident freshmen applications saw an upswing for fall 2011. While there was a 3.6 percent increase in California freshman applicants, both out-of-state and international applicants surged, increasing by 10.7 percent and 22.5 percent respectively.

The increase in non-resident applications falls in line with a recommendation made by the UC Commission on the Future in December that encourages the UC to allow campuses to increase undergraduate, non-resident enrollment to enhance students' educational experience, "broaden geographical diversity" and generate additional revenue.

According to Susan Wilbur, UC director of undergraduate admissions, the commission's recommendation stipulates that the UC total for non-resident enrollment can go up to 10 percent. She added that with the UC currently at 5.6 percent for non-resident undergraduate enrollment, it will take a number of years to reach 10 percent.

"All campuses are proactively seeking to increase the enrollment of non-resident students," Wilbur said in an e-mail. "However, UC's priority remains the enrollment of CA resident students for whom the state has provided funding."

All 10 UC campuses had growth in freshman applications with UC San Diego, UC Merced and UC Riverside seeing the greatest increases - 11.2 percent, 8.9 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.

The increase in applications represents a landmark moment for UC Riverside, according to Kris Lovekin, spokesperson for the campus. For the first time in the campus's history, there were enough direct applicants that they will not need to offer admission to referral applicants - those who did not receive admission to the campuses they applied to, but are still UC-eligible - Lovekin said.

"It really is a milestone year for us," she said. "This will lead to people who want to be here, people who directly applied to the campus, being offered admission, and as we go on here, the GPAs and the test scores will rise over time as a result."

Falling in line with a trend of steady growth over the last few years, the volume of transfer applications UC-wide continued to rise with a 26 percent increase in the number of transfer applications over the last two years, according Vazquez.

"It has been a goal of the regents to increase transfer students at the university, and we are gratified that there have been these healthy increases in transfer applications over the past several years," he said.

The increase in transfer applications can in part be attributed to outreach efforts, guaranteed transfer agreements and a systemwide push to make the transfer path more efficient and clearer, Vazquez added.

Several campuses also attributed the increase to campus-specific programs and recruitment efforts targeting community colleges and local students.

"UC San Diego has had an impressive growth among transfer students, a reflection of the university's diligent work to recruit students from California's community colleges," said Mae Brown, assistant vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment services at UC San Diego, in an e-mail. "UC San Diego is dedicated to recruiting transfer students as they bring a real-world perspective to the university's diverse student body."

While campuses have seen increases in applications, there is concern that sharp reductions in state funding to the UC could limit enrollment levels despite the growing number of applications from qualified students, according to Brown.

"It is a deep concern of the university that for some students who worked hard their entire school careers may not be able to attend because we may have to limit enrollment because of California's severe budget cuts to higher education," Brown said in an e-mail.


Aaida Samad covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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