UC Berkeley under fire for admissions policies

- The California State Auditor released a report that states the University of California's enrollment policies have been unfairly favoring out-of-state students over California residents.

"The University of California made some financial decisions that were really disadvantageous to California residents," said Elaine Howle, a CPA and California State Auditor, in a video and audit released Tuesday. 

The University of California system had about 252,000 students last year at its 10 campuses.

The state auditor said in the past five years, out-of-state enrollment increased by 18,000 students (+82%), while resident enrollment decreased by 2,200 students (-1%).

The auditor noted the financial incentives. Out-of-state students generate more revenue paying $37,000 in annual tuition and fees compared to $12,240 dollars for a California resident.

The UC Office of the President said system wide, the percentage of nonresidents has increased from five percent to 15 percent in recent years, but they say the audit results are incorrect in suggesting higher nonresident enrollment hurts residents.

"They got it wrong because UC admissions policies overwhelmingly favor Californians." Steve Montiel, a spokesman for the UC Office of the President.

The UC Office of the President released a report in response to the state audit.

Montiel says that state budget cuts since the recession have forced the UC system to cut costs and try to make up revenue.

He says nonresident tuition brought in needed funds that benefited California students.

"A nonresident is not displacing a resident. In fact the nonresident funding is helping to enroll more Californians," Montiel said.

Montiel says to be considered for admission to the UC system,  the minimum standard is a 3.0 GPA for residents whereas nonresidents must have a 3.4 GPA or higher.

He says UC also put a cap at 20 percent for nonresident enrollment at the two schools with highest demand, UC Berkeley and UCLA, schools where many California students did not get in. Critics say that 20 percent cap is too high and favors nonresidents over California students.

"There were definitely people who did not get into UC Berkeley with high GPA's, qualified students who did not get in," said Arynn Kwan, a UC Berkeley freshman from the Bay Area.

"I had a 3.88 and I know people who had over a 4.0 who didn't get in," said Tara Coughlin, a UC Berkeley freshman from southern California.

UC officials say admissions decisions are based not just on GPA, but a list of 14 criteria, such as community service or special areas of talent.

"I know they have a cap on out of state students and all the out of state that I've met, I feel like it's harder for them to get in," said Savannah McLaughlin, a UC Berkeley freshman from Temecula.

The audit has a list of recommendations. Those include a recommendation that UC have more oversight of campus spending and conduct a cost study every 3-5 years to determine how much money is needed to operate the campuses, so tuition and enrollment can be set accordingly. The audit points to an increase in employee salaries from $8 million to $13 million over a 10-year period.

The audit also recommends the California state legislature take action, by putting limits on nonresident enrollment such as a five-percent cap.

UC officials say much depends on state funding and due to more state money being allocated to the UC system, they expect to increase California enrollment by 10,000 students in the next three years.

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