Sharply higher numbers of students from other states and countries applied for admission to the University of California this year, following UC’s controversial efforts to recruit more such students for the extra tuition they pay, according to a report released Thursday.
At the same time, UC administrators said a new policy that reduced the standardized testing requirements for admission appears to have encouraged more Californians than ever to apply to the university system.
The number of non-Californians seeking to become UC freshmen in fall 2012 rose 56% over last year to about 33,000, officials said. About 93,300 in-state students, up 9.8%, applied for freshman entrance to at least one of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses, even though the number of students graduating from the state’s high schools remained level.
Overall, freshman applications to the university rose 19%, to 126,300.
Kate Jeffery, UC’s interim director of undergraduate admissions, described those statistics as “both a good news and a bad news story.” She said it is gratifying that more young people want a UC education but frustrating that state budget cuts make it unlikely that enrollment of California students will grow. She said more than before will be rejected at their first-choice campuses and instead will be offered a spot at UC Merced, the newest and smallest UC campus.
Many out-of-staters are also expected to be disappointed when admissions decisions are announced this spring, although UC campuses will enroll more of them than in previous years. Out-of-state students pay an extra $23,000 on top of regular UC tuition and fees, now about $13,200 annually.
For the current freshman class, UC boosted enrollment of non-Californians to about 12%, with big clusters at UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego. Out-of-staters now comprise about 7% of undergraduates systemwide, and the UC regents want to cap that figure at 10%. Even that level has upset Californians who worry that their children may be squeezed out.
Freshman applications from other states rose nearly 50% this year to 19,128. International applications grew 66.4%, to 13,873; China, India, Korea and Canada sent the most.
Admissions expert Jerome A. Lucido, executive director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, said he was not surprised by the UC numbers, noting that the public university system has recently begun to recruit strongly outside California. Its elite reputation and West Coast location are particularly attractive to students from Asia, he added. Lucido also said that students from elsewhere in the country were not scared by UC’s budget woes because many other states face similar austerities.
The current crop of applicants is the first since UC instituted changes to widen its applicant pool. The requirement for supplemental SAT subject exams was dropped, although applicants still must take the main SAT or ACT tests. Jeffery said that change, along with a national trend of students applying to more colleges, especially public campuses, probably helped boost this year’s applications.
The most popular UC campus again was UCLA, with 72,626 freshman applicants, up 18.1% from last year. UC Berkeley was next with 61,661, up 16.5%, and UC San Diego had 60,819, up 13.8%.
In an opposite trend, the number of Californians seeking to transfer to UC declined about 6% this year. Jeffery attributed the drop to the budget-related difficulties community college students face in registering for classes they need.