UC audit recommends admissions process improvements

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The UC system is strengthening its admissions practices after an internal systemwide audit found problems in how the university documents candidates for special talent admission, among other admissions processes.

The audit’s first phase, which was conducted in response to the nationwide college admissions scandal, was completed in June 2019 and provided initial recommendations to strengthen the admissions process against fraud, according to the audit. All undergraduate campuses will have implemented phase one corrective measures focused on special talent admissions by March 15, a letter from UC President Janet Napolitano stated.

The audit’s second phase revealed issues with the documentation of admissions decisions for students admitted under special talents, such as athletics and arts, and the application verification process for all students.

“It is clear that greater consistency in the execution and documentation of how Special Talent Admissions decisions are made is needed,” Napolitano wrote in the letter.

The audit found a need for improvement in many areas, including application verification and student-athlete participation tracking, according to audit documentation.

The UC Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services, or ECAS, plans to work with campuses to implement changes to their admissions processes, according to the university’s summary of the audit.

“We have full confidence in our current admissions process and remain dedicated to making any necessary changes to further strengthen that process and help ensure fairness and integrity in our admissions system,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email.

Gilmore said some recommendations from the audit have already been addressed by campus. One such recommendation is a one-year minimum participation requirement for nonscholarship student-athletes. Gilmore added that UC Berkeley will now provide an annual participation report to UC Berkeley’s Student-Athlete Admissions Committee.

In response to the audit, UC Berkeley will require more formal documentation in the admissions process, according to Gilmore.

“Coaches are now required to disclose in writing to the Athletics Compliance Office any instance in which a pre-existing relationship exists with one of their recruits,” Gilmore said in the email.

Campus management will develop plans based on the audit recommendations and submit the plans to the UC Office of the President for review by ECAS, according to Gilmore.

Each campus is required to issue independent audit reports of its admissions processes, according to the summary. Finalized local campus audit reports are expected to be issued by the end of March.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar said she hopes the audit helps close “loopholes” in the special talent admissions process.

“Admission by exception does seem to be a complicated process and most of the time folks admitted through that process are admitted for really good reasons and we want them on our campus,” Sarveshwar said.

Contact Maya Akkaraju and Joy Ma at [email protected].