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Report: CA’s public universities turning away more applicants

Craig Clough | November 30, 2015

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access deniedCalifornia’s public colleges and universities are turning away a record number of applicants and raising admission standards due to insufficient state funding, a new report has concluded.

The report, “Access Denied: Rising Selectivity at California’s Public Universities,” which was produced by the Campaign for College Opportunity, comes just as LA Unified’s effort to get more of its graduates eligible for the UC system goes into effect with the class of 2016. This school year, all graduates must have taken and passed a series of classes required for acceptance into the UC system called A through G.

The new A through G standards require students to get at least a D grade in all the classes to graduate, even though a C grade in the classes is a minimum requirement for acceptance to the UC system. However, according to the report, a C grade isn’t going to cut it anymore, as the average grade point average of admitted students to six of the nine UC campuses in 2014 was over a 4.0.

The gap between the number of UC applicants and those admitted has more than doubled between 1996 and 2013, the report concluded.

“More Californians are prepared for college and want to go, yet our public universities cannot accommodate all of the eligible students and the state has failed to invest the resources necessary to expand college access to keep pace with demand,” the report states.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Due to reductions in state funding, 139,697 CSU eligible students were denied admission between 2009-2014.
  • California is projected to be short 1.1 million bachelor’s degrees by 2030.
  • California’s national rank for four-year enrollment within the college-age population is 49th.
  • California’s rank in bachelor’s degree completion within the college-age population is 45th.
  • Students need near perfect grades along with near perfect SAT or ACT scores to get in to a UC school.
  • California has experienced rapid population growth (265 percent since 1950) and is younger than most other states, creating pressure to accommodate more students seeking a college education.
  • High school graduates today are better prepared (42 percent of high school graduates in 2013 completed A-G courses required for UC and CSU eligibility, up from 36 percent in 1996), yet as a whole are less educated than the Baby Boomers who will be rapidly leaving the workforce.

A reduction in state funding following the 2008 recession is largely responsible for admission problems, the report said. Since 2008, state funding was reduced by over 25 percent for the UC and CSU systems when adjusted for inflation, according to the report.

“The state’s economic future depends on our students being able to access, afford and complete a postsecondary degree,” said California State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León in a statement reacting to the report. “A majority of the 6 million children attending our K-12 public schools are low-income and underrepresented minorities, and California must take a more strategic approach to establish a pipeline from our K-12 school system to our higher education institutions.”

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