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UC opens doors to record number of Californians, led by growth in transfer students

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- The University of California opened its doors to a record number of Californians for fall 2018, led by growth in transfer students from across the state, according to preliminary data released Wednesday.

The public research university's nine undergraduate campuses offered seats to 95,654 Californians, nearly 3,000 more students than last year. Overall, UC admitted about three-fifths of the 221,788 California, out-of-state and international students who applied.

"After reviewing yet another record-breaking number of applications, our campuses have offered admission to an exceptionally talented group of students," UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement. "With the benefit of a UC education, these accomplished young people from different backgrounds, with diverse beliefs and aspirations, will make California and the world a better place."

The data reflect UC's stepped-up efforts to reach more deeply across California for community college students, as it responds to growing pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to open access for more residents.

Brown has long advocated the transfer option as a cheaper alternative to a four-year degree at a time the state is projected to face a 1.1-million shortfall in college-educated workers by 2030, and he has used his budget power to prod UC to adjust its admission policies. In recent years, state elected officials also have successfully pressed UC to boost enrollment of Californians and limit out-of-state and international students.

The mix of offers for freshmen and transfer students slightly shifted this year in response to such pressure. Most campuses increased offers to California transfer students and decreased them for freshmen.

The University of California, Los Angeles, for instance, admitted 562 fewer freshmen but 64 more transfer students this year. Berkeley, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz also boosted their admission offers to state transfer students. Offers to California freshmen were down at Berkeley, Irvine, San Diego and Santa Cruz in addition to UCLA.

"Transfer students are the future of our university," said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA vice provost of enrollment management.

One of them is Francisco Cruz Tapia, a 24-year-old transfer student from Moreno Valley College who plans to study computer engineering at UCLA this fall. He said he chose to start at a community college to stay closer to family and save money. His costs were minimal, he said, because he lived at home and received a fee waiver for his classes.

At UCLA, his tuition and fees will be covered by Cal Grant and university aid, but he said he'll need to pay rent in the pricey Westwood area. Cruz Tapia said, however, that the costs will be worth it for a chance to pursue his research interests in artificial intelligence.

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