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UC System Accepts Record 55,242 Calif. Applicants for Fall Term

April 20, 2006|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

The University of California, marking a continuing recovery from the budget-related cuts of 2004, said Wednesday it has accepted a record-setting 55,242 California applicants for freshman admission this fall, up more than 10% from last year.

All nine of UC's undergraduate campuses, including the system's newest campus near Merced, admitted more students than last year, according to annual freshman admissions figures released Wednesday. UC officials said all academically qualified California high school students were admitted for the fall, with many receiving offers from more than one campus.

Overall, 2006 is a year of "good news" for students, Susan Wilbur, director of admissions for the UC system, said in a conference call with reporters. She said the opening of UC Merced last September has eased pressure on admissions somewhat, as has a long-term agreement with the governor that has stabilized the university's funding. In 2004, the state's budget problems prompted UC to turn away qualified in-state students for the first time in four decades.

The systemwide admissions numbers do not include out-of-state or international students, typically less than 10% of UC's student population.

Across the university system, admission was slightly easier this year. About 78% of those who applied were offered a slot at one or more campuses, compared with about 76% last year. But as in previous years, the two most competitive sites -- UC Berkeley and UCLA -- each turned away about three of every four applicants.

Systemwide, the average "weighted" grade-point average of students admitted for the fall dipped very slightly to 3.78, a figure that includes the extra weight UC gives for Advanced Placement and other honors classes at high schools. UC officials said the change, from 3.79 last year, was not significant.

But the incoming admitted class, the first to have the new, longer SAT included as part of its applications, also had lower average scores on comparable parts of that entrance exam than students last year. Wilbur said UC officials were studying possible explanations for the trend.

For the first time this year, the overall number of Asian Americans admitted systemwide surpassed that of white students, though that has been the case at certain campuses -- including UCLA and UC Irvine -- for some time. Systemwide, Asian Americans constituted 36% of the California students offered admission this year, up about one percentage point from last year. White students represented 35.6%, a decline of about two percentage points.

UC officials said, meanwhile, that the proportion of Latino, African American and Native American students rose for the fall, reaching 21.7% for the newly admitted class, up from 20.6% last year. But that percentage, a closely watched figure since the ban on affirmative action in the late 1990s, slipped this year at three UC campuses.

The drop was steepest at UCLA, where the percentage of those underrepresented minorities among admitted California freshmen fell to 15.2% for the fall, down from 16.5% last year. Of particular concern, both for admissions officials and others at the Westwood campus, African Americans represented just 2% of California students admitted, down from 2.4% last year.

Thomas Lifka, UCLA's assistant vice chancellor for student academic services, called the low percentage of admitted African Americans -- magnified by their tiny numbers on the campus -- "a great concern." He said UCLA was scrambling to find better ways to attract and admit such students while not violating the ban on racial preferences.

"I wish we had some sparkling new ideas about what to do about it, and unfortunately, we don't," Lifka said. "But that doesn't mean it isn't of grave concern ... it just seems to be an intractable problem."

But Darnell Hunt, a UCLA sociology professor who heads the campus' Bunche Center for African American Studies, said school officials were not doing enough to recruit and admit qualified black students. Hunt pointed to UC Berkeley, which managed to increase the proportion of African American students in its admitted class this year, to 3.3% from 3%.

"Obviously, something is out of whack here," said Hunt, whose center is studying UC's admissions as part of a five-year project exploring the challenges facing black students.

Overall, UCLA admitted about 12,000 of the more than 47,000 students who applied. Officials said the figure again appeared to show that the Westwood campus had attracted more applications than any other school nationwide.

Students have until May 1 to accept their admission offers.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Fall semester freshman admissions

Systemwide, the University of California admitted more than 55,000 in-state students for fall 2006, up more than 10% from 2005. The percentage of underrepresented students also rose this year for UC overall, but it fell at three campuses, including UCLA.

Systemwide

*--* 2003 2004 2005 2006 Total 49,669 45,136 50,017 55,242/ETD/ETR 281 255 279 344 Native American Afri 1,720 1,446 1,593 1,880 can Amer ican Lati 7,795 7,329 8,438 9,750 no Asia 16,125 15,037 17,297 19,896 n Amer ican White 18,640 16,951 18,844 19,685/ETD/ETR *--*

*--* UCLA Berkley/ET 2006 2006/ETD/ETR 10,487 8,637 D/ETR Total Native 41 52 American African 210 288 American Latino 1,339 1,163 Asian 4,811 3,692 American White 3,252 2,750

*--*

Note: Out of state, international, referral and certain immigrant students are not included in this report.

Source: UC office of the president

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