The fall 2016-17 UC Berkeley freshman class includes 1,000 more in-state admits compared to last year’s number because of additional state funding, according to new data released by the UC system Wednesday.
The UC Berkeley admissions data was released in concurrence with similar statistics from the larger UC system, whose incoming freshman class saw an increase of 15.1 percent of California admits in comparison to the 2015-16 academic year. UC Berkeley — which received a record number of applications this year — had freshman admissions rates of 21.3 percent for California residents, 16.5 percent for out-of-state students and 7.6 percent for international students.
“This year it was wonderful to bring in more California students and still be able to focus on our diversity and opportunities we have here,” said campus undergraduate admissions director Amy Jarich.
According to Jarich, this year’s admissions spike is a result of the deal struck between UC President Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown last year to allocate $25 million of state funding to enroll 10,000 additional UC students in the next three years.
In previous years, the UC system was unable to accommodate the increasing demand for acceptance into its colleges, said Stephen J. Handel, associate vice president of undergraduate admissions at the UC Office of the President. Handel said that because of this partnership with California legislature, the university was able to accept more students, and he added that it was “not surprising” that the larger pool of students was also more diverse.
California voters passed Proposition 209 in 1996, which prohibits state institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity — essentially banning affirmative action. Despite the university’s inability to directly take these factors into account during the admissions process, the university does consider other socioeconomic facts that allowed the university to increase its freshman admissions to historically underrepresented groups by 3.2 percent.
“Prop. 209 is quite a challenge,” Jarich said, adding that because of this constraint, the result of UC Berkeley’s efforts to increase diversity among its freshman class were unknowable during the admissions process.
Some believe that the state still needs to do more to fund higher education in California. John Ellwood, a campus professor emeritus of public policy, said the UC’s strategies to get more money — such as raising tuition and accepting more out-of-state graduate students — are a direct result of the governor and California legislature failing to adequately fund higher education.
“In the golden days of California higher education, you could get a Stanford education at a state school,” Ellwood said. “That’s no longer the case.”