UC’s accountability report shows student and administrative data, continued trends

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The University of California’s 2014 annual accountability report revealed a continuation of many trends in affordability, research and admissions, along with other information about the university’s operations.

Released last week, the report also unveiled information about the university’s staff, faculty, graduate students, student diversity, budgets and capital projects and is part of the university’s effort to provide transparency and accountability to the general public.

The report showed that at most 3 percent of incoming freshmen at each campus are from a western region in California, which includes Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. In addition, students from Shasta, Humboldt, Mendocino and other counties making up the northernmost part of the state represent less than 3 percent of incoming freshmen at each campus. Location is one factor of the comprehensive review used by the university to determine admissions.

Paul Golaszewski, an analyst with the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, pointed to the fact that this northern region of the state is less populated than other areas such as the Los Angeles area, which generate a higher percentage of UC students.

University faculty, staff and retirees are largely concentrated in the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions.

The report revealed that students at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara had the highest satisfaction with their overall academic experience in 2012. Students at UC San Diego and UC Irvine are the least satisfied, according to a systemwide survey.

UC Merced, which became the university’s newest addition in 2005, continues to lag behind its sister campuses in many respects, including campus revenues and expenditures. In 2012, entering freshmen at UC Merced had the lowest average SAT reading and math scores among all incoming UC freshmen, and the campus has the lowest number of doctoral students out of all of the campuses.

“Merced is the newest and smallest campus,” said UC spokesperson Brooke Converse in an email. “Making comparisons between long established campuses and UC Merced will not always provide an accurate picture.”

The number of undergraduate seniors participating in research has steadily declined at UC Merced over the past few years, although their involvement in research has improved at UC campuses in general. At UC Berkeley, the percentage of undergraduate seniors involved in research increased by more than 10 percentage points over two years to nearly 60 percent in 2012.

Research-doctorate programs at UC Berkeley rank the highest out of all of the campuses, with 32 programs in the top 10 percent nationally, according to 2005-06 rankings from the National Research Council. UCLA has the second-highest number of top-ranking programs in the UC system, with 15 doctoral programs in the top 10 percent.

The number of international students has increased substantially in recent years, part of the university’s strategy to make up for decreased state funding. At UC Berkeley, international students comprised about 6 percent of the student population in 2009. The proportion increased to about 11 percent in 2012 and more than 16 percent in 2013. The fraction of out-of-state students also increased in this period.

“Other public universities have tried the same strategy — more so during the recession and in times of state funding cuts,” Golaszewski said.

UC Berkeley students also had the lowest average student loan debt of all the 2011-12 UC graduates, at $18,377, although the systemwide average of $20,205 was still lower compared to the national average of $25,704 at public four-year universities. The percentage of students who are graduating with debt, however, has steadily increased over the past five years.

Contact Angel Grace Jennings at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.