The University of California said it has increased admission offers to California freshmen by more than 15 percent for the fall 2016 semester while also reducing offers to international students at two of its prestigious campuses. The numbers are likely to help defuse a controversy sparked by accusations that the university has rejected Californians in favor of nonresidents.
A state audit released in March stoked criticism of the university system for its pursuit of out-of-state and international students — who pay significantly higher tuition — part of an increasingly controversial national trend in which public universities rely on nonresident tuition to help fill budget gaps left by declining state appropriations. The audit said the university had put California students, particularly minorities, at a disadvantage, which the university system denied.
A detailed chart released by the university showed that 71,178 California freshmen have been offered admission to the university’s nine undergraduate campuses for this fall, an increase of 9,344 from last year. That reflects a dramatic reversal from 2015, when admission offers to California freshmen declined by 1,039 from the previous year, spurring protests by parents whose children were denied spots.
While overall admission invitations to out-of-state and international freshmen for this fall also increased — by about 13 percent each — offers to international students decreased at two of the university system’s most sought-after campuses, in Berkeley and San Diego.
The university also said it had increased admissions of California residents transferring from community colleges by 14 percent, the largest jump in the system’s history.
In a scathing report, the California State Auditor had concluded that over 10 years, the university had tripled its population of nonresident undergraduate students, reducing the percentage of resident applicants it admitted to 62 percent from 77 percent, while, at the same time, increasing the percent of nonresidents it admitted to 56 percent from 48 percent. The nonresidents included thousands of students who were less qualified than admitted Californians, the audit said.
After the release of that audit, the California Assembly voted unanimously last month to phase in a 10 percent cap on nonresident enrollment — a reduction from the current 15.5 percent. In a budget deal, the Legislature agreed to permit the university to establish its own cap and also tied additional university funding to the increasing enrollment of California residents.
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, a Democrat from Sacramento who had pushed for the cap, applauded the preliminary admission numbers, which were emailed last week to The New York Times.
“For too many years, we’ve seen the impact of rationed U.C. access for California students,” Mr. McCarty said in a statement. “We look forward to the pending U.C. Regents nonresident student policy, which will set a cap for out-of-state students.”
Mr. McCarty said the numbers reflected an effort by the university system to increase diversity by making more admission offers to African-American and Latino students, a change also noted by Janet Napolitano, the university’s president.
“We are happy to welcome to the university so many more Californians, a diverse, high-achieving group of both freshmen and transfer students,” Ms. Napolitano said.
The California State Audit report had been particularly critical of the impact of nonresident admissions on university diversity.
While commending the university’s attempts to increase diversity among resident students, the audit said that in the 2014-2015 academic year, roughly 86 percent of the nonresident domestic students identified as white or Asian, reducing the overall percentage of minority undergraduates to 30 percent.
Also that year, the audit said, the university denied admission to 47 percent of underrepresented minority applicants compared with 32 percent of white and Asian applicants.
For fall 2016, the university said, the number of admitted California freshmen from historically underrepresented groups has grown to 37.8 percent of the total from 34.6 percent a year ago. African-American freshmen who were admitted increased by 30.6 percent, to 3,464 for this fall from 2,653 in 2015.
Final enrollment figures for this fall will not be available until later in the year, said Dianne Klein, a university spokeswoman, who added that the campuses are expecting increased enrollment and are working on plans to accommodate additional students. The university has acknowledged a shortage of campus housing, with more than 8,000 undergraduates on a waiting list.
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