Poll Finds 60% of Students From Immigrant Families

Wendy Lee is a staff writer and Brian Whelan is a contributing writer for The Daily Californian.

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Editors' Note: This is the first in a series of

articles highlighting the results of the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey

administered last spring.

A recent UC undergraduate survey has found a majority of students reported themselves as coming from middle-class and immigrant backgrounds.

The survey, conducted by the Center of Studies in Higher Education, is part of a UC-wide research project called Student Experiences in the Research University-21st Century.

The center released results for UC Berkeley sophomores and juniors in July. Full findings including freshmen, seniors and transfer students are expected to be released in a few months.

According to the current findings, the majority of students are from middle- to upper-income families. Additionally, approximately 60 percent of students reporting said at least one of their parents was born outside the United States.

Richard Black, assistant vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment, said the findings on student family backgrounds reveal that "Berkeley really is an integral part of the American dream."

"Berkeley's roots literally go all over the world," he said.

The majority of students reporting said they considered themselves "middle class," whereas 17.2 percent labeled themselves "working class" and 7.8 percent labeled themselves "low-income or poor."

But UC Berkeley has one of the largest numbers of low-income students in the nation, falling second to UCLA, Black said. UC Berkeley has almost three times more low-income students than Stanford University or Harvard University, he added.

The median annual income of the parents of students reporting is $70,000-79,000, Black said. Approximately 36 percent of the students, however, reportedly have annual family incomes of over $100,000.

"One of the things I love about Berkeley is we're here for everybody, (even) students from affluent families," Black said.

The number of UC Berkeley students with parents born in foreign countries is double the projected number for the residents of the state of California, according to the U.S. Census in 2000.

Richard Flacks, faculty investigator for the UC-wide survey, said the project's findings may affect UC admissions policies and faculty-to-student classroom ratios.

"I don't think the institution would be investing in the survey unless it plans to change its policies," Flacks said.

Flacks said UC may re-evaluate its admissions policies if survey results reveal students from low-income families take more advantage of university resources and study harder than suburban students.

But Black said the results will not affect changing admissions policies.

Gregg Thomson, Director of Student Research at UC Berkeley, said university officials created the survey by examining past university surveys and also through input from other university officials, faculty and staff.

Thomson said the survey's findings did not differ significantly from surveys conducted in recent years.

Several students questioned the validity of the survey. Some admitted they had taken the survey quickly without putting significant thought into their answers in order to receive the $5 added to their CARS account for completing the questionnaire. Some added that friends took the survey for them.

"The only reason I filled out this survey was to make $5, and I probably said that I was a 25-year-old albino woman who made $500,000 a year selling helper monkeys," said UC Berkeley sophomore Jon Green.

University officials from the Center for Studies in Higher Education will meet today to discuss the survey's findings, Thomas said.

Flacks said if the university continues to finance the project, there will be another survey administered this spring.


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