UC Berkeley increases diversity for admitted 2020-21 class

Infographic depicting the number of underrepresented minority students in the 2020 UC Berkeley admitted class compared to previous years
Nada Lamie/Staff

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After a concerted effort to increase diversity for the UC Berkeley 2020-21 incoming class, campus admitted its most ethnically diverse class in more than 30 years and has seen an increase in first-generation students from last year.

UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Olufemi Ogundele focused on outreach, including reaching out to students in regions of the state, country and world that are underrepresented in the applicant pool, according to a July 16 campus press release.

“Admissions officers were able to gain a deeper understanding of the educational opportunities the applicants from their territory had in their personal, school, and geographic context,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email.

Enrollment numbers have not been finalized yet, so the difference in admissions and enrollment rates is not known, according to Gilmore.

Gilmore said she does not expect a significant change from admitted student numbers to enrollment numbers.

“Offering admission is just one part of the admissions cycle — ensuring that many of these diverse students go on to enroll at UC Berkeley will be key,” the press release states.

Students from underrepresented minority groups make up 25% of the admitted freshman students, while first-generation students make up 28% and 14% come from other U.S. states or territories, according to a Berkeley News infographic.

Campus admitted 200 more African American freshmen compared to last year and over 1000 more Chicanx and Latinx students — the highest number of students in these populations since at least the late 1980s, according to the press release.

“A new undergraduate admissions director (Ogundele) revamped the admissions office’s approach — from outreach to enrollment — to meet the goal of increasing diversity while maintaining UC Berkeley’s high academic standards,” the press release states.

Outreach conducted to attract transfer students included strengthening relationships with transfer outreach programs and looking to colleges that were underrepresented in the transfer student population, Gilmore said in the email.

More than 95% of this year’s admitted transfer students came from community colleges in California, 29% of transfer students are underrepresented minority students and 47% are first-generation students, according to the infographic.

“I hope this increase in diversity among our transfer students will encourage underrepresented transfers to know that they belong at Cal,” said ASUC Transfer Representative Valerie Johnson in an email.

The incoming class also has more diverse Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship recipients, with 232 students from the admitted class receiving the award, 31% of whom are from underrepresented minority communities, according to the press release.

There was “significant diversity” among the 89 freshmen Fiat Lux Scholarship recipients, the press release adds, with 59% of recipients coming from underrepresented minorities and 80% being first-generation students.

“The university is improving in its efforts to provide students with the education that they deserve,” Johnson said in an email. “It means that maybe an underrepresented student won’t be the only student of color in their classes anymore.”


Shylie Ati is an academics and administration repoter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shylieati.