Capitol Alert

UC boosts California admissions to meet $25 million enrollment target

Facing political pressure to enroll thousands of new resident students, the University of California has admitted nearly 15 percent more high school seniors from across the state this year.

UC announced Monday that it accepted 66,123 California freshmen applicants for fall 2016, an increase of 8,488, or 14.7 percent, over last year. The admissions rate jumped 7 percentage points to 62.7 percent.

Offers for out-of-state and international freshmen also climbed by about 7.6 percent to 32,799. The university said that represents a slight drop in the acceptance rate, to 53.7 percent from 54.6 percent, because the popular Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego campuses will hold their new nonresident enrollment flat this year.

The news comes several weeks earlier in April than UC usually releases admissions numbers – breakdowns by campus, as well as transfer rates, were not yet available – as the university faces continuing criticism over access for Californians. A state audit last week blasted enrollment policies that have disadvantaged resident students by placing a priority on recruiting applicants from out of state and overseas.

As part of a budget deal last June, Gov. Jerry Brown pledged a $25 million bonus if UC added 5,000 more slots for resident students by the 2016-17 academic year. The university doubled down, committing to add 10,000 more Californians, and 3,000 more nonresidents, over the next three years.

But amid tense negotiations that saw UC threaten to limit in-state enrollment, the number of California freshmen and transfers entering the university actually dropped. There were about 1,600 fewer new resident students at UC’s nine undergraduate campuses last fall as compared to fall 2014, a deficit they will have to make up before meeting the 5,000-student bonus goal.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff