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UC Irvine faces backlash for rescinding admissions to nearly 500 students

The Student Center on UC Irvine's campus.
The Student Center on UC Irvine's campus.
Steve Zylius via UC Irvine on Flickr

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Last week, nearly 500 incoming freshmen at UC Irvine were told their admissions were rescinded, two months before classes begin. 

Many students were told their revoked admissions were because they didn't submit paperwork, or had poor senior year grades. Hundreds of students are now filing appeals.

But how does something like this even happen? 

For answers, Take Two spoke with Scott Jaschik, Editor at Inside Higher Ed. 

How common is it for students to have their admissions revoked? 

"There are always a few cases of this, a student fails out senior year, or is found to have plagiarized a paper... this does happen. What's unusual here is the number, usually we're talking about a few, not hundreds. [500] is a lot, and it is true that when you're admitted to college you get a letter that says "to come here you have to send in your final transcript, and you have to fill out these forms." It is not at all unheard of to have students ignore those notes, but usually the process is they're pestered and they get the forms in, not that they have their admissions offers revoked."

What is the university's explanation? 

"The university acknowledges that they are enforcing the rules more rigorously this year. They deny that it is because many more freshmen said they were going to come than the university expected. Many people find it more than a coincidence that in a year that they have so many more students coming, that they are moving to tougher enforcement - so they're not getting believed. They deny it is due to [over-enrollment], but they've got a lot of extra students. It is certainly true that no one knows exactly how many freshman will show up. But, typically there are formulas and patterns to follow, and you don't have this number. You read every fall about a college that has 50 extra freshmen, and so they turn doubles into triples and it all works out, because over the fall some students drop out. But this magnitude of change really is obviously problematic to a lot of people."

What's next for these students? 

"The university has said it will look at every case of students who appeal. And some of the students say that they actually did submit the forms, that it is an error. So the university is promising to do something. They're getting an awful lot of bad publicity and angry parents, angry students, it would not shock me if we see some loosening of the rules, or perhaps extra efforts to help these students."