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Record Number of Students Apply to University of California Schools

Record Number of Students Apply to University of California Schools
American Indians only minority group to see applications fall in 2004

The number of students who want to get into the University of California topped 100,000 for the first time this year, including nearly 9,000 students seeking one of the 1,000 spots at the new campus of Merced.

Two-thirds of the applications, or about 76,000, were from freshmen looking to attend UC’s nine undergraduate campuses this fall, a nearly 3 percent increase over last year.

Despite recent funding cuts, UC officials anticipate they will be able to find a place somewhere in the system for all qualified California high-school graduates, as set out in the state’s guiding Master Plan for Higher Education, says UC spokeswoman Ravi Poorsina.

The new figures showed that applications were up from all racial and ethnic groups, except for American Indians, whose numbers dropped from 420 to 409.

Applications from Black students, on the other hand, were up nearly 4 percent system-wide after dipping by nearly 6 percent last year. Still, the numbers were small, 2,906 this year compared to 2,801 last year, and still more than 2 percent below 2003 levels.

Black enrollment has been a key issue especially at the top campuses of UC, which is banned by state law from using affirmative action in admissions. Last fall, only about 100 Black students enrolled out of a freshman class of more than 3,600 at highly competitive UC Berkeley.

This year, Berkeley received 1,424 applications from Black freshmen, which was up 2.4 percent from last year, although still below 2003 levels. However, UCLA saw Black applications fall for the second year in a row.

By contrast, the number of Black California high-school seniors who meet UC requirements has increased by about 10 percent over the past few years. Officials aren’t sure what is leading to the drop in applications, Poorsina says.

“Any increase is welcome, but it certainly does not solve the question of how do we make that number better while staying within the limits of the law,” she says.
Meanwhile, applications from Hispanics, also an underrepresented minority at UC, were up more than 9 percent, to 12,175. That tracks with high-school data showing that the number of UC-eligible Hispanics increased about 13 percent over the past two years.

New this year was the opening of the Merced campus, the 10th in the system.

UC Merced, in Central California, appeared to have an impact on UC Davis, which saw a 4 percent decrease in overall applications.

“The state budget reduced the money we had available to reach out to high-school students with school visits, academic preparation programs and campus tours,” Pamela Burnett, director of undergraduate admissions at Davis, said  in a news release. 

Associated Press

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