Explaining UCI’s Enrollment Controversy

By Eliza Partika

Early this summer, 500 incoming UCI freshmen had their admissions acceptances revoked in a controversy which  sparked protest from current  undergraduates at UCI via a petition demanding justice for rescinded students. Although 250 of these students have been re-admitted and the university has announced an appeals process for affected students, admissions officers have also adopted a closer observance of the admissions standards, as the office examines the remaining students for technical application errors, such as missing transcripts.   

Tom Vasich, Interim Media Relations Director and Director of Research Communications, said that UCI Administration is doing its best to alleviate issues for the 250 readmitted students, such as missed SPOP orientations and potential class enrollment conflicts. According to Vasich, the Admissions Office has been working with impacted students and their families by “providing ongoing outreach, including personal phone calls” to aid students in the transition process.

Vasich also said that  orientation fees have been waived for any students that missed their scheduled orientation due to appeals or readmission, and those students have been scheduled into SPOPs 8-10. Students are not expected to have any problems registering for classes, as the university has set aside classes specifically for new student enrollment, as is custom.

   The expected number of incoming acceptances for the 2017-18 academic year was around 6,300 students, with a yield rate, or expected student interest in attending UCI, of 21 percent. As stated in Chancellor Howard Gillman’s letter to the student body released August 2, there will be a Chancellor-led review process to examine whether UCI admissions could have predicted the discrepancy between the expected and actual number of admissions, which came to around 7,100 students, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. In his letter to students, the Chancellor also promised to address the insensitive manner in which students were notified of their recensions.

“I intend to find this out so it will never happen again,” Gillman wrote. “I directed our internal auditor to review the admissions process and suggest areas for


Chancellor Gillman promised students that he planned to release “a preliminary report” within 60 days from August 2, the day the letter was emailed to students.

   The Los Angeles Times reported that the UC Admissions departments hold an annual UC-wide meeting to discuss enrollment strategies and targets for the upcoming academic years. UCI has not been the only UC with admissions troubles in the past years,  so learning what other UCs have done to accomodate could have helped UCI avoid revoking student acceptances to accommodate for potential over-enrollment. Part of the Chancellor-led review will cover why this meeting was not effective in mending or preventing problems that have arisen from this crisis.

  On September 13, UC President Janet Napolitano announced a  new Admissions Task Force which will review how all nine UCs process and review enrollment qualifications like test scores and transcripts. It is hoped that by evaluating current policy and  recommending best practices, that the Admissions Task Force can standardize the admissions process to make it more efficient and student-friendly. “I expect the task force’s recommendations will help us strike just the right balance between our responsibility to verify and the need to serve as advocates for our students.” Napolitano said in the press release released on September 13. The task force will “consider the effectiveness and the timeliness of communication with students” regarding the reception and verification of transcripts and test scores as well as any questions or information regarding the appeals process; reviewing whether documents solicited from students can be reduced or made more efficient and if UC’s need of those documents align with the ability of K-12 schools, testing organizations and community colleges to provide the necessary information for the documents; assess the ability of each campus to uphold the integrity of admission, to clarify the appeals process, and to recommend best practices to better verify the academic qualifications of students.

   The California university system has discussed of a collaboration between California State Universities and UC to allow for a more equitable admissions process, although Mr. Vasich said it was “premature to comment until a detailed plan has been created.”