More selective UCs still less diverse than other campuses

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The University of California admitted significantly more nonresident freshmen and fewer California residents for the 2011-12 academic year than in past years. And while the system's more selective schools attracted the most out-of-state students, they remained less diverse than campuses with less competitive admissions, according to data released Monday by the UC Office of the President.

While the number of nonresident students increased to about 18 percent systemwide, 4.1 percent fewer state residents were admitted than last year. Fewer students from varied ethnic and financial backgrounds were accepted to the most selective campuses - UC Berkeley and UCLA - compared to affluent out-of-state applicants, according to Pamela Burnett, interim director of undergraduate admissions at the UCOP.

The figures illustrating the ethnicities of in-state students accepted to the university varied little from last year's statistics, with the percentage of white and Pacific Islander students remaining the same - at 30.6 and 0.3 percent respectively. While the percentage of accepted black and American Indian students dropped slightly, the percentage of Asian Americans increased marginally.

The most noticeable change in the ethnic makeup of the admitted in-state students was a 2.7 percent growth in the proportion of admitted students who were Latino - increasing from 13,699 students last year to 15,418 this year, or 23.3 percent of all those admitted to 26 percent, respectively.

This jump reflects the growth in both the state's Latino population and the number of Latinos graduating from high school, according to Hans Johnson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

The percent increase in Latinos offered admissions in 2011 dwarfs the relatively meager 1.1 percent growth these students experienced from 2009 to 2010. According to Joseph Rios, a coordinator for UC Berkeley's RAZA Recruitment and Retention Center, this boost can be attributed to efforts to reach out to Latino students - who now make up roughly half of the student population in the state's public school system - and encourage them to apply to universities.

The swell in Latino admits was more pronounced on the university's less competitive campuses. Latino admissions rates increased by approximately 5 or 6 percent at UC Merced, UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz, compared with a less than 2 percent increase at UC Berkeley and UCLA.

The campuses that accepted more Latino students also accepted more students who graduated from high schools with low Academic Performance Index scores, according to the report.

According to Burnett, a higher percentage of underrepresented students - including Latinos - attend schools with lower API ratings, making them less likely to be ready to compete for a place at a more selective campus.

"Students attending schools that are ranked lower by the API are usually schools that have fewer resources and are less likely to have a college-going culture," Burnett said. "There is less information and less encouragement, less support to be a really, really competitive applicant."

She added that the university will know in May how many students who have received an offer of admission will choose to attend.

"The university values a diversity of ideas and perspectives," Burnett said. "You can have a broad definition of diversity, and that would include students from outside California and outside of the country."


Nina Brown covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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