UC to turn away eligible students

    The University of California announced Feb. 26 that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to reduce UC freshman enrollment by 10 percent due to budget cuts will force the university to turn away several thousand eligible students.

    Although not all campuses have finished their admissions process, UC officials are expecting about 3,200 applicants, or 10 percent of the batch of eligible students, to be offered admission contingent upon first completing two years of coursework at a community college. As an incentive, community college fees will be waived.

    “The fact that we’re not able to take all eligible students this year is a very large disappointment,” Susan Wilbur, UC systemwide director of undergraduate education, told the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 27.

    The university expects the reduction to be spread out so that each of the eight undergraduate campuses reduces its enrollment by 200 to 425 students.

    In the past, all students who met eligibility criteria were offered a spot at one of the campuses.

    It is as of yet unclear whether or not a reduction of 3,200 will be considered a break in the mission of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education. The plan calls for the top 12.5 percent of high school graduates to be offered admissions to the University of California, but a recent report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office points out that students who fall outside of that top 12.5 percent can still qualify as eligible.

    “It is likely that University of California and the California State University are currently drawing students for admission from outside of their Master Plan targets,” the LAO report states.

    UC Student Regent Matt Murray, however, said that the reduction does constitute a breach of the plan in its stated intent.

    “The questions right now are about whether the eligibility criteria capture that 12.5 percent, but the critical point is that we’ve been telling these current high school students that if they’re meeting eligibity requirements, they’ll get in,” Murray said. “In my opinion, we’re breaking the Master Plan by breaking our promise to those students.”

    The University of California’s eligibility requirements include specific high school coursework and combined minimum grade point average and examination scores.

    “It’s 100 percent politics, and it’s about the priorities of the people in Sacramento,” Murray said. “This is the first example of many very unfair things that will happen if things keep going the way they are right now.”

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