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UC applications up; transfer interest especially strong

January 14, 2010 |  6:58 pm

Despite higher student fees, the number of applicants for admission to the University of California for the fall has risen to record levels, with especially strong interest from potential transfer students, officials said today.

Overall, 100,320 students applied to at least one of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses for freshman admission this fall, up 2.4% from last year. The figure includes 81,991 California residents, a 1.6% increase, even though the number of the state’s public high school graduates did not grow.

Transfer students showed larger increases, according to the UC data. All told, 33,709 students applied to transfer to UC for the fall term, a 17.5% jump. The 29,396 Californians among them were 18.1% more than last year.

Susan Wilbur, UC’s director of undergraduate admissions, said she was gratified that applicants were not scared off by the $2,500 increase in UC’s basic undergraduate fees for this fall, to about $11,300 annually. She also said the recession may have prompted some who might otherwise have applied only to private colleges to seek admission to UC as well.

Wilbur attributed the rise in transfer applicants to better recruiting by UC and to a change at California’s other public university system. Since Cal State stopped midyear enrollment this year, some students appear to be trying their luck at UC in the fall, she said.

On average, the statistics show, UC applicants are seeking admission at 3.4 campuses. As it has in recent years, UCLA again received the most applications, with 76,313 freshman and transfer applicants, and Berkeley was second with 65,474. Next, in order, were San Diego, Irvine, Santa Barbara, Davis, Santa Cruz and Riverside. Four-year-old Merced, which struggled for applicants in its first years, showed significant gains, although it still ranked last.

UC last year accepted 72% of its freshman applicants and nearly half enrolled. With another round of budget-related enrollment cuts possible, Wilbur said it may be harder for this year’s applicants to gain entrance at their top choice campus. But she said all students who meet academic requirements will land a UC seat, although some will be offered admission only to UC Merced even if they didn't apply there.

—Larry Gordon