UC Reports First Enrollment Drop in a Decade

Matthew Artz
Friday January 30, 2004

Fewer students applied to the University of California this year than last, the first such drop in over a decade, according to a UC report released Tuesday. 

International and out-of-state applicants led the decline, which comes as UC braces for higher student fees and lower enrollment from anticipated state budget cuts. 

“We never welcome a decrease in applications, but given the situation this year it may ease some pressure on the system,” said UC spokesperson Lavonne Luquis. 

Applications for prospective freshman dropped 4.1 percent from 76,931 last year to 73,794. While applications from California residents dropped only 2.9 percent, applications fell 18.2 percent for international students and 9.4 percent for out-of-state students. 

Helping bridge the gap, 24,373 community college transfer students applied to UC this fall, up 5.7 percent from last year. California transfer applications rose 12.9 percent, while out-of-state and international transfers fell 14.2 percent and 56.1 percent. In total, 98,658 students applied to UC—a 1.3 percent decline from last year. UC Berkeley saw enrollment slip 0.7 percent 

Luquis attributed the drop to negligible growth in the number of high school graduates in California this year, federal immigration laws making it more difficult for students to obtain visas and higher student fees. 

California residents have seen their tuition rise 40 percent in the past year, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed an additional 10 percent hike bringing annual tuition close to $6,000. 

Out-of-state students, who now pay about $20,000 per year, are also facing fee hikes at a time when some regents are pushing for more to be admitted to help fund in-state students. 

A racial breakdown shows that transfer student application rates rose across the board, but for freshmen only Chicanos, American Indians and Asians saw applications increase, while African Americans experienced the biggest drop, with seven percent fewer applications. 

—Matthew Artz