UC plans admission guarantee to qualified transfer students

The University of California on Tuesday unveiled its first system-wide admissions guarantee for qualified college applicants — but access to certain campuses is not guaranteed.

To receive the guarantee, community college students would have to complete a newly unified set of general education courses required by both UC and California State University, complete specific coursework required for UC majors, and have a minimum Earn GPA.

Those not admitted to their preferred campus would be offered a spot at UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced or UC Riverside, a UC admissions officer told lawmakers at an assembly budget hearing on Tuesday. The intention is to simplify the transfer path so students clearly understand the requirements and don’t take more courses than necessary, UC officials said.

“The key to transfer is just asking students what they need to do and nothing more,” said Susan Cochran, chair of UC’s system-wide academic senate. “We think this proposal is … a positive step forward in simplifying remittances and helping UC meet its responsibilities to the people of the state of California.”

Three-fourths of state community college applicants are admitted to UC, more than half of those enrolled do not pay tuition, and 89% graduate — a rate slightly higher than that of freshmen and well above the national average of 55 % , according to UC data. A third of UC students are transfer students.

But in the last few years of the pandemic turmoil, UC and CSU have grappled with falling transfer applications as community college enrollments have plummeted.

UC transfer requests have decreased at each campus and decreased systemwide from 46,155 in Fall 2021 to 39,363 in Fall 2023. Even UCLA, the campus with the most applications in the country, saw a drop to 23,954 from 28,440 during the same period. Over the past year, UCLA increased the number of accepted transfer applicants and was eventually able to enroll more of them for fall 2022.

UC’s system-wide plan countered the direction of Gov. Gavin Newsom in his proposed budget for 2023-24, which called for UCLA to pass a transfer guarantee program or face a $20 million cut in state funds.

Last month, the impartial Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended rejecting Newsom’s plan, noting that UCLA enrolls more transfer students than any other UC campus and graduates them at higher rates.

LAO called Newsom’s policy unfair and “particularly short-sighted” by separating a campus and tying funding for it to a narrow set of outcomes.

But not all welcomed the UC proposal, preferring instead a single transfer path that community college students could take for admission to UC or CSU. Some have urged UC to extend an admissions guarantee to those completing a community college associate degree for transfer.

Cal State admits any student who earns this two-year degree and meets the minimum GPA requirements, but only guarantees admission to the system, not to specific campuses.

“California needs to demystify the student transfer route. While we appreciate the University of California’s leadership for their openness to a long-overdue system-wide transfer guarantee, the newly proposed UC transfer path only adds to the complexity and confusion surrounding the transfer,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Rep. Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Chair of the Budget’s Education Funding Subcommittee, has also pushed for a single path — implying that UC’s reluctance to adopt the same requirements as CSU is a “turf war.”

McCarty said students have suffered from long waits for a simplified transfer route to UC. “What’s the solution? Maybe it’s called ADT,” he said, referring to the state community college system’s two-year transfer degree.

However, UC academic leaders say the problem is not the turf, but the differences in UC and CSU requirements for their majors.

For example, a CSU math degree requires linear algebra or differential equations. But UC requires both plus a year-round sequence in science. UC requires calculus for a business degree; CSU not.

It’s unclear how much of a difference a system-wide transfer eligibility guarantee would actually make.

Six of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses already offer transfer guarantee programs, and most are dropping certain majors from the program due to the high number of applicants for limited places.

UC Davis, for example, is excluding its new major in data science. UC Irvine omits art, business, dance, music, nursing and all majors from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. The Irvine campus offers the guarantee of other popular majors such as life sciences and psychology.

System-wide, 13,031 out of 46,155 potential fall 2021 transfer students applied through the guaranteed admission program. In a memo presented to Regents last month, UC said its top priorities include doubling the number of students with transfer admission guarantees, increasing the number of students from underrepresented backgrounds, and strengthening transfer-assistance services, particularly in the Central Valley and in the Inland Empire, belong.

While the new proposal would add UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego to the transfer guarantee program for the first time, no campus would need to accept more students than it has space. In practice, that would ultimately mean that the pickiest campuses would increase their minimum GPA when inundated with new applications.

Competition for seats — and the stress that high school students face today — is already a major problem, lawmakers said at the hearing.

Rep. Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) shared how his daughter is now preparing for high school, and the data shows students on that campus seeking admission to UCLA and UC Berkeley have GPAs of 4.6 or 4.7 – which not only requires them to have an Ace in virtually every class, but also a number of Advanced Placement and Honors classes.

“That’s the kind of pressure that students put on themselves,” Muratsuchi said, adding that UC officials “have no relation to the dreams and aspirations of kids trying to go to a dream school.”

He chided UC officials for failing to meet fall 2023 enrollment growth targets and continuing to enroll so many international and foreign students. UC had pledged to increase all full-time enrollment by 7,632 for Fall 2023, but instead expects to enroll just an additional 4,197.

UC said it would make up the deficit with larger enrollment gains over the next few years.

UC officials said they are likely to miss their target largely because of the drop in college applicants. But community college campuses are beginning to recover as students increase their credits and return to pre-pandemic behavior, officials said.

Lawmakers said they would review state policy that sets UC goals at one transfer student for every two freshmen enrolled. As transfer students decline, Muratsuchi said, perhaps the number of freshmen can increase.

“This is the top priority of this subcommittee … fighting to enroll more Californian children,” Muratsuchi said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-03-28/uc-proposes-first-time-systemwide-g-admission-to-all-qualified-transfer-students UC plans admission guarantee to qualified transfer students

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing Alley@ustimespost.com.

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