For the first time in over a decade, data from the University of California Office of the President has revealed that fewer students applied to the university than the year before.
‘As of Feb. 2, preliminary numbers for UCI show that we received 33,775 freshman applications and 8,654 transfer applications,’ said Marguerite Bonous-Hammarth, director of admissions and relations with schools at UCI.
This is compared to the 34,807 freshman applications received for fall 2003, which indicates a 1.8 percent decrease. The number of transfer applications actually revealed a record increase of 10 percent from 7,580 applicants in fall 2002.
The overall drop, led by sharp decreases in applications from out-of-state and international students, comes at a time when UC is considering raising fees and trying to trim enrollment due to state funding cuts.
‘While we never welcome a decrease in applications, given that the UC is being asked to decrease its freshman enrollment by 3,200 students in fall 2004, may ease some pressure on the system,’ said Hanan Eisenman, media coordinator for admissions at the UCOP.
‘The proposed cuts will be deep and may ultimately translate to slower growth than previously planned for some campuses within the system, but these cuts are part of the pain that the UC is sharing with other sectors in the state,’ Bonous-Hammarth added.
According to the UCOP data, every UC except UC Santa Cruz received a decrease in the number of freshman applications. In addition, the percentage of underrepresented ethnic groups declined as well, from 22.6 percent to 21.9 percent at UCI.
‘As far as the decline in freshman applicants, we believe that the decline may be tied to a variety of factors,’ Eisenman explained.
Bonous-Hammarth continued by explaining what factors may be involved.
‘The system-wide demographic analyses showed declines in specific cohorts such as international students, and these students may have faced additional immigration restrictions that impacted their plans to study abroad,’ Bonous-Hammarth said. ‘Overall, there was modest growth in the high school graduation rate of our major pool of California applicants, coupled with the possible impact felt from fee increases and previous cuts to outreach activities that help inform students about preparation and opportunities at UC.’
Amy Che, a fifth-year information and computer science major who recently transferred to UCI, gave her comments on why she applied to University of California.
‘I decided to apply to the UCs because they’re a reputable and respected public university system. The cost of attending a UC is much lower than most privates but the education is as good and sometimes better, depending on the UC,’ Che said. ‘I think some students would not apply anymore because of the rising cost of attending a UC.’
Hwan Pak, a fourth-year electrical engineering major, believes that the decline in applicants will have a positive effect on the current students.
‘With a smaller freshman enrollment, the UCs will be able to distribute more funding to students, as well as cut down on classroom sizes,’ Pak said.