UC in-state undergraduate enrollment rose for the fourth year in a row in fall 2019.
According to the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, the enrollment increase is a result of the UC system’s commitment to providing higher education to more Californians. In fall 2019, the UC system enrolled 2,614 additional in-state undergraduates, amounting to 1.4% more than previous years, according to a UCOP press release. Out of the 108,178 freshmen admitted to UC campuses in 2019, 71,655 students were Californians — a record number.
“(The increase in enrollment) helps meet our goal to make a UC education accessible to more students, particularly those from California,” said UCOP spokesperson Stett Holbrook in an email. “Growing enrollment also means increasing the number of university degrees to support California’s workforce.”
Projections estimate 1 million UC degrees will be earned between 2015 and 2030, according to a UCOP press release. The university has also said it aims to grant an additional 200,000 degrees by 2030.
The campuses with the most enrollment growth are UC Riverside, UC Irvine and UC San Diego, with 1,622, 876 and 849 students respectively.
“As the state’s population grows, and as the percentage of high school students who complete A-G requirements increases, enrollment growth is necessarily to prevent the UC from being too selective of an institution,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, ASUC external affairs vice president and president of the UC Student Association, in an email.
The number of freshmen admitted to UC Berkeley in fall 2019 increased by 75 students, though 728 more California residents were admitted this year than last year. Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore noted, however, that unlike other campuses, UC Berkeley admits students in both fall and spring, so fall-only data does not provide a complete picture.
According to Sarveshwar, UC Berkeley is requesting a lower rate of enrollment growth because campus infrastructure is struggling to accommodate the existing number of students.
Any additional enrolled students would cause class sizes to increase and make it harder to get into impacted majors, according to ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Aastha Jha. She added that a potential solution would be to move toward online education but also added that online classes could potentially distract from desired college experiences.
“If we keep adding students without building infrastructure such as housing or classrooms or hiring faculty and staff to supplement, then the student experience will continue to worsen on campus,” Jha said in an email.
Gilmore said the campus will dedicate increased funds toward instruction, and Chancellor Carol Christ is working to hire 100 new faculty members to alleviate the pressure staff would face with additional students.
Another concern with increasing enrollment is the lack of available housing in Berkeley. ASUC Senator Haazim Amirali said although he understands the reasoning for increased enrollment, he believes the focus should be on the basic needs of currently enrolled students. He added that many students started the year in residential hall lounges as temporary housing.
“Expanding enrollment is key to maintaining access,” Sarveshwar said in an email. “But it’s critical that the state and the UC be able to provide housing and adequate resources for its growing student population.”