University of California Makes Room for Record 60,000 Freshmen

SAN FRANCISCO

The University of California has accepted a record 60,008 California residents as freshmen for the coming fall despite worries that cuts in state funding could lead to overcrowded campuses and tuition increases, officials said Monday.

With more high school seniors vying and qualifying for spot at a UC school, the university admitted a little more than three-quarters of all in-state students who applied, similar to last year’s in-state admissions rate of 77 percent, university officials said.

The admission offers to in-state freshmen beat last year’s total of 57,318, also a record, by about 4.7 percent and represent a 43 percent increase over the fall 2000 term. Officials said upholding UC’s long-held tradition of finding a space for all eligible California residents outweighed concern over the uncertain budget situation.

“This was a very difficult decision given the fact that there are not sufficient resources to fund large growth and it could have negative impact on our programs down the road,” said Susan Wilbur, UC’s director of undergraduate admissions. “That said, I think it was the right decision because there are students who have worked hard for years to get to this point and it didn’t seem right to penalize them.”

To close a projected a budget deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed funding the system by $400 million less than its governing board estimates it needs for the 2008-09 academic year to accommodate enrollment growth and improvements in student services. In the past, state budget cuts forced the rejection of some qualified students from the system’s nine undergraduate campuses.

The number of students admitted was up for in-state freshmen of all racial backgrounds except American Indians, although the racial composition of the UC system could shift slightly next year because of bigger gains by some minority groups. Overall, the system admitted 12,432 students of Hispanic descent, 1,717 or 16 percent more than last year. Admission rose by 11 percent, or 234 freshmen, for Black students, to 2,305.

If the students who enroll at a UC campus in the fall reflect the racial makeup of those offered spots, Hispanics would make up 21 percent and Black students 3.8 percent of the freshman class. White and Asian students each would comprise 34 percent of first-year students. Nearly 3,000 students declined to state an ethnicity on their applications, 12.3 percent more than a year earlier.

Wilbur said the improved diversity meant that high schools were doing a better job of preparing minority students for college, adding that more work would need to be done before the UC student body would accurately reflect the diversity of California’s high school graduates.

Systemwide, admitted students had an average GPA of 3.79, about the same as last year, and combined SAT scores of 1777, a very slight decline.

Along with the more than 60,000 in-state students who already have been offered admission, UC plans to offer slots to either UC Merced or UC Riverside to another 8,450 students who were not accepted at one of the campuses to which they applied. Another 3,000 were given the option of deferring enrollment at UC Berkeley or UC San Diego until the winter or spring terms.

UC typically admits more students than it can accommodate at individual campuses since not all those admitted will choose to attend.

Wilbur said the university will have a clearer picture of how budget cutbacks will affect its campuses by summer.

“We have a long-standing tradition here of offering a space to every UC-eligible student, and it’s something we feel very good about,” she said. “The long-term question is, can we continue to sustain that kind of growth if we are not appropriately funded.”

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