The chances of in-state high school seniors gaining admission to the University of California worsened this year, as more of them applied and the number accepted dropped 2.2%, according to data released Thursday. Meanwhile, the ranks of out-of-staters and international students who were offered a UC spot continued to increase.
A record 99,132 Californians sought to become UC freshmen in the fall and 60,089, or 60.6%, were admitted by at least one of the system's nine undergraduate campuses. That acceptance rate was the lowest ever — down from more than 70% five years ago.
UC officials contend that this year's drop is a result of continuing financial constraints on the system and an effort to prevent overcrowding, because more students than anticipated enrolled for the current freshman class. Even though 1,354 fewer Californians were admitted for the 2013-14 school year, administrators said their goal was to enroll about 33,500 state freshmen, the same as last fall.
In recent years, UC has aggressively courted non-Californians for the extra $23,000 in annual tuition they are required to pay. The system accepted 22,761 of them for fall 2013, up nearly 21% from last year. Of the international students who applied, 58.2% were accepted, as were 53.8% of UC hopefuls from elsewhere in the United States.
Despite the rise in out-of-state students, Michael Treviño, UC director of undergraduate admissions, insisted Thursday: "Our priority is to California and to continue to provide access to Californians." He said he expected non-Californians would constitute about 10% of UC undergraduates across the system in 2013-14, in line with an informal ceiling set by the Board of Regents.
Those imported students, however, will be unevenly distributed and probably concentrated at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego. Those three campuses attracted the most applications from outside the state, and such students constituted at least a third of the potential freshmen who were offered chances to attend the schools.
Katy Murphy, who is president-elect of the National Assn. for College Admission Counseling and heads the counseling department at Bellarmine College Preparatory high school in San Jose, said most California students and parents are resigned to the state budget situation that led UC to admit more out-of-staters.
One result, she said, was that more Californians are attending big public universities in other states, particularly Arizona and Oregon, and that could be a brain drain. "Do we really want these really bright, energetic and talented kids to go out of state? They may not come back," she said.
UC's enrollment numbers and trends will remain uncertain until after students have sent in their deposits, which are due by May 1.
The data released Thursday showed that UCLA once again was the toughest of the UC campuses to get into. As it has for several years, UCLA attracted the most applications — 80,494 — of any public university in the nation, campus officials said. The Westwood school accepted only 20.1% of its overall freshman applicants.
Next was Berkeley, which accepted 20.8%. The San Diego campus offered a seat to 36.8%; Santa Barbara, 38.8%; Davis, 39.4%; Irvine, 41.1%; Santa Cruz, 48.6%; Riverside, 54.7%; and Merced 65.6%.
Asian Americans constituted 36% of California students accepted across UC, again the largest share among ethnic groups. Whites made up 28.1%; Latinos, 27.6%; and African Americans, 4.2%.
The increase in out-of-state and foreign students accepted was not as steep as the 43% boost the year before, officials said. They also noted that the number of Californians admitted was larger than it was two years ago.
Most in-staters need to be in the top 9% academically of seniors at their schools or in all of California. Students from out of state generally must have higher academic records than Californians.