BERKELEY — More black and Hispanic students are expected to enroll at the University of California this fall. However, the rate at which those students accepted offers of admission is at its lowest point in years.
Overall, 31,018 students have written to UC saying they plan to enroll, a 7 percent increase over the 29,004 who accepted offers of admission last year.
Among blacks, Hispanics and American Indians, considered by UC to be “underrepresented minorities”, 5,262 accepted offers, an 11 percent increase over the 4,730 who accepted last year.
Enrollment did not keep pace with admissions offers, which were up 17 percent for underrepresented minorities.
The acceptance rate for those groups was 54 percent, down from a 56.8 percent acceptance rate for fall 2000. In 1997, the last year in which UC considered race and gender in admissions, the rate was 59.9 percent.
Looking at all students, the acceptance rate was 56.3 percent this year compared to 57.9 percent last year and 59.7 percent in 1997.
UC spokesman Brad Hayward said officials aren’t sure why the acceptance rate went down this year, although he noted that students generally are applying to more of UC’s eight undergraduate campuses than they used to and may be sending out more applications to other colleges, as well, giving them more choice on where to attend.
“We suspect that there is more competition out there for the same students,” he said.
Enrollment of underrepresented minorities dropped sharply in 1998, after UC stopped considering race and gender in admissions. The numbers have increased since then, but have not returned to 1997 levels at the most competitive campuses.
This was the first year of a new program guaranteeing a spot for the top 4 percent of high school graduates. Officials believe that program boosted applications from underrepresented minorities by 2,100 students. They also say it’s likely the program contributed to increases of admissions of underrepresented minorities.
Underrepresented minorities make up 17 percent of the overall class of incoming freshmen, compared to 16.3 percent last year. In 1997, they made up 17.7 percent of the class.
Last week, regents rescinded their affirmative action ban. The move was largely symbolic since state law passed by voters in 1996 dismantled most public affirmative action programs, but was viewed as a conciliatory message to minorities.