Faced with overwhelming demand, UC San Diego cuts freshmen admission offers by 9,500
Other UC campuses do the same as the system struggles with a flood tide of enrollment
UC San Diego offered admission to 9,456 fewer prospective freshmen this fall than it did a year ago to cope with the unprecedented enrollment demand that is roiling the entire University of California system.
To varying degrees, the system’s Berkeley, UCLA, Davis, Irvine, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz campuses did the same, as they struggled to find enough housing and classroom space for the flood tide of students.
Only the Merced and Riverside campuses increased admission offers.
College enrollment is declining in many parts of the country, particularly the northeast and Midwest. But it’s booming in the UC system, where ever more students are meeting eligibility criteria. The UC received a record 210,840 applications from prospective students for this fall.
The state has pledged to add about 6,200 California students to UC campuses this year, which reflects the demand that state residents are placing on the system.
But it’s unclear whether the UC will hit that number, and whether Californians will be satisfied with how things shake out in general.
Last year, the state claimed that UC San Diego, UCLA and Berkeley have been undermining California residents when it comes to admission by favoring out-of-state and foreign students because they pay much higher tuition.
The state subsequently told all three schools to reduce nonresident undergraduate enrollment by roughly 4 percentage points, pushing it down to 18 percent of the enrollment makeup from just over 22 percent, over a five-year period that starts this fall. That could collectively free up 4,500 slots for California residents.
Lawmakers provided millions of dollars to offset the loss in tuition from higher paying students.
However, the reduction in admission offers this year doesn’t just involve out-of-state and foreign students. UC San Diego, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Irvine and Davis also admitted fewer Californians.
It is part of a larger effort by the UC to allow for some growth without letting things get out of control. In just the past five years, the system has added 30,000 students, pushing enrollment to a record 294,662. Students at four UC campuses ended up having to stay in hotels last year because there wasn’t enough room for them in campus housing.
The boom has been especially big at UC San Diego, which added 6,900 students during that period. About 3,100 students ended up on waiting lists for housing last year.
The La Jolla campus might be tapping the brakes.
The number of California residents who were offered admission to UC San Diego for the fall dropped by 1,633 from a year ago, while the number of offers to students from other parts of the U.S. fell by 4,852. Offers to foreign students declined by 2,971.
Overall, UC San Diego admitted 31,160 of the 131,226 students who applied — or just under 24 percent. The admission rate was 34 percent a year ago.
An offer of admission does not necessarily mean that a student will accept it and enroll. In fact, much of the time it means the opposite. UC San Diego offered admission to 40,616 prospective freshmen last year. University data said only 7,543 chose to enroll. Fewer than 30 percent of UCSD’s 2021 freshman said the school was their first choice.
Even so, there could be significant growth this year in the UC, which made admission offers to a record 85,268 prospective freshmen, about 1,000 more than a year ago.
The UC’s enrollment could rise a lot if there’s a significant jump in the “yield rate,” or the percentage of students who actually enroll in the fall.
That happened last fall at UC San Diego, which enrolled a record 42,875 students, almost 2,400 more than a year earlier. The yield was higher than expected and higher than desired, due to the housing shortage.
UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla estimates that the campus will have about 44,000 students this fall.
Rich Leib, the San Diego businessman who serves as chair of the UC Board of Regents, wants the entire system to undergo historic expansion.
Over the past year or so, regents have talked about adding 20,000 students by 2030. More recently, Leib and some fellow regents have said the figure should be about 33,000.
“I think we should really push enrollment growth,” Leib told the Union-Tribune on Sunday, Aug. 14. “You have to be careful how you do it. But we’re doing a lot of planning on this matter right now.”
During a previous interview, Leib said he supports the idea of expanding UC San Diego’s reach into South County, possibly creating some type of satellite operation for undergraduates in Chula Vista.
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