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UC to set limits on freshmen enrollment

January 9, 2009 | 12:22 pm


University of California officials today proposed reducing freshmen enrollment for next fall by 2,300 students, or about 6%, to cope with what they said was insufficient state funding.

Enrollment would not be cut at UCLA and UC Berkeley, the most popular campuses, and expansion would continue at UC Merced, the newest school, according to the plan that is to be reviewed by the UC regents next week. The other six undergraduate campuses would see some freshman reductions.

"I have always been reluctant to constrain freshman access to the university, but the absence of state funding for enrollment growth and continuing budget cuts have left us no choice if we are to protect the quality of the instructional program we offer,” UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement.

UC leaders say impacts would be softened by an expected demographic shift as the number of high school graduates starts to decline this year. However, some other experts suggested that the current financial crisis and higher unemployment may be pushing more students to UC rather than more expensive private schools. Applications to UC are running about 3% higher than last year.

Yudof described the proposed cuts as “modest” and stressed that students whose high school grades and test scores meet UC eligibility standards would not be denied admission to the system, but that more will be denied a spot at their first-choice campus. 

The number of graduate students would not change under the proposal, and the number of students who transfer from community colleges would increase by about 500, or about 3%. Yudof said that during the economic downturn, “we need to keep open cost-effective paths to UC, such as the community college transfer route.”

The UC Board of Regents have scheduled a special telephone conference meeting on Jan. 14 to debate and vote on the plan.   

--Larry Gordon

Photo: Students pass through UC Berkeley's Sather Gate. Credit: Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times