Credit: FERMIN LEAL/EDSOURCE TODAY
UCLA's Royce Hall in Los Angeles.

Keeping with a pledge to prioritize enrollment of California residents, the University of California admitted a record number of in-state freshman applicants and fewer out-of-state and international students for fall 2022, according to data released Wednesday.

Those trends, however, varied across the system’s nine campuses, with several campuses admitting fewer California residents than a year ago. At the same time, even though the raw number of Californians accepted was up from last year, the overall acceptance rate for those students was down across the system. That’s because the system received more applications than a year ago.

UC also admitted fewer transfer students, which was the result of fewer applications from California’s community colleges, where enrollment has dropped dramatically since the pandemic.

Overall, UC admitted 125,597 incoming freshmen, down from 132,353 a year ago. But that included 85,268 California residents — about 1,000 more than a year ago.

Most campuses, though, actually admitted fewer California freshmen than a year ago. The Davis, Irvine, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz campuses all accepted fewer California residents, according to UC’s data. The systemwide uptick of California residents being admitted was driven largely by increases at the Riverside and Merced campuses, which combined to accept about 3,700 more California freshman applicants than last year.

The Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses also accepted slightly more Californians than they did in 2021.

“The University’s enduring dedication to California’s young people and its partnership with the state continue to attract unprecedented numbers of talented Golden State students,” UC President Michael Drake said in a statement. “It is our privilege to be able to offer admission to the state’s largest-ever class of California students.”

Meanwhile, 22,798 out-of-state freshman applicants were admitted across the system, 19% fewer than last year. The system also accepted 17,531 international freshman applicants, about a 12% drop from 2021.

Those trends come as lawmakers in California have pushed UC to prioritize enrolling in-state residents over out-of-state students. This year’s budget agreement included $98.8 million to support enrollment growth of California residents. That included $31 million to reduce enrollment of nonresidents at the Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego campuses by about 900 students and replace them with California residents. Those slots are costly to fund because an out-of-state student pays about $30,000 more annually in tuition than an in-state student. The state’s funding is meant to offset that lost tuition revenue.

Gov. Gavin Newsom this year also announced agreements with UC and the 23-campus California State University system that call on the systems to gradually increase enrollment of California residents over the next five years. As part of the agreements, which Newsom dubbed multiyear compacts, the systems will get annual funding increases in exchange for working toward a number of goals, including increasing enrollment of in-state residents by 1% each year.

UC also plans to significantly grow capacity over the next eight years, aiming to add an additional 23,000 students by 2030. The system’s plans to accomplish that include more online and summer programs as well as concentrating the growth at certain campuses, including Merced and Riverside.

The numbers released Wednesday by UC were only admissions statistics. It won’t be clear until the fall whether they translate into an increase in the number of California residents who enroll. In fall 2021, UC enrolled 58,591 new California residents, up about 1,600 from fall 2020.

The state’s efforts to increase resident enrollment at UC come as demand for a UC degree continues to increase. This year, the system received nearly 211,000 freshman applications, up from 203,700 a year ago.

UC admitted 59.5% of those applicants, down from 65% a year ago. That was mostly driven by far lower admission rates for out-of-state and transfer students, but even California students were less likely to be accepted. The system admitted 64.4% of California freshman applicants, down from 65.7% in 2021.

The opposite was true for transfer students. UC admitted 25,253 students from California community colleges, a drop of about 3,200 from last year. But because fewer of those students applied for admission, the overall acceptance rate was higher this year. UC admitted about 76% of California community college transfer applicants, up from 73% last year.

UC attributed the drop in applications to declining enrollment at the community colleges. The state’s 116 community colleges have seen their enrollment dip dramatically during the pandemic.

UC also admitted a more diverse population of students than it did a year ago. In 2020, Latino students for the first time made up the largest ethnic group of students admitted to the system, and that trend has continued since then. This year, the system admitted 31,763 Latino students, 543 more than a year ago. They accounted for 37% of the admissions pool, again the most of any racial or ethnic group.

There was also a small increase in the number of Black students, Native American students and Asian American students admitted to the system. Meanwhile, the number of accepted white students decreased from about 17,000 students to under 16,000 students.

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