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It's harder to get into a UC these days

UCLA students hold up tuition hike protest signs.
UCLA students hold up tuition hike protest signs.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

It's harder to get into a UC these days.

The University of California has become more selective — accepting roughly 63.5 percent of applicants for 2012-13 compared to 68.2 percent last year — according to preliminary admissions data released Tuesday.

The 10-campus system saw a record number of applications this year with 160,939 students who applied to UC, up 13.2 percent from last year, according to numbers released in January. This was primarily due to an increase in out-of-state and international students.

The admissions numbers show a record number of students admitted, 80,289 students, because of this increased pool of applications. As anticipated in January, because there were more applicants, more were turned away. 

UC Berkeley is now the most selective campus in the system, with a 21.1 percent admit rate, followed by UCLA with a 21.3 percent rate.

UCLA was the most selective campus for Californians, admitting only 17.7 percent compared with 22.5 percent last year. UC Berkeley was the most selective campus for international students, with 12.4 percent admitted.

Check out the tables for more of the breakdowns. (These preliminary admissions numbers do not include transfer applicants, those on wait lists or others who have received referral admission to UC Merced, and so will likely change in the coming months.)

Though more Californians got into the UC system this year (an increase of 3.6 percent or 2,155 students), the overall enrollment target is likely to remain the same as last year, at 33,000 students.

"Our enrollment targets for Californians are driven by state funding," said UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein. "We don’t have any more state funding, and it doesn't look good for an increase. So that's static."

Instead, the system saw a 43.4 percent increase in admissions for out-of-state and international students (13,144 to 18,846 students) for fall 2012. But again, because of the major jump in out-of-state and international applications, the overall admissions rate for both these categories dropped by several percentage points from last year to 53.9 percent for out-of-state students and 61.3 percent for international students.

UC, which has long been lauded as one of the country's premier public higher education systems, has worked hard to increase applicants of non-Californians as each out-of-state or international student brings in about $23,000 in additional tuition fees.

"Currently we are educating 11,000 California students for which we receive no [state] funding," Klein said. "So that disconnect really can't continue. The money has to come from somewhere."

One method has been "increasing out-of-state students, who are basically subsidizing the Californians," Klein said. The system also made cuts to services and teaching staff and raised tuition fees to help cover costs. Tuition fees have increased by roughly 57 percent since the 2007-8 academic year, when it cost $7,734 to go to a UC school. Now it costs $12,192 to attend for the year.

Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012 proposed budget could cost the UC system another $200 million in cuts if voters do not approve tax increases the governor is trying to get on the November ballot (this after about $750 million last budget year — including a mid-year trigger of $100 million).

UC officials are in ongoing discussions with people in Brown's administration about long-term funding for the system, Klein said. Roughly 11 percent of the system's $22.5 billion annual budget comes from the state's general fund. But that money is pivotal because it goes straight toward educating students, Klein said.

Klein said the system had hoped to increase its overall enrollment by 1 percent in 2012, but will likely be unable to because of the budget. The system has the capacity to grow with spaces in the classroom, but it isn't possible, especially when it comes to California students.

"We want to, it's the right thing for California, etc., but the budget reality is we cannot," Klein said. "...The whole purpose of our public university is we want to maintain accessability, affordability and excellence, but we can't do that all at the same time without any money."

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).