Despite program cuts and rising student fees, the University of California is still a popular choice for community college students.
The UC received 33,709 transfer applications for fall 2010, a 17.5 percent increase from last year’s number. UC Davis alone saw an increase of 25.7 percent compared to fall 2009.
“It’s definitely a number we didn’t anticipate,” said Frank Wada, executive director of undergraduate admissions at UCD. “In a typical year we usually see around a 10 percent increase in transfer applications, so this number is significant.”
In January 2009, the UC Board of Regents approved a recommendation from President Mark Yudof to increase transfer enrollment by 500 students across the UC system. The university exceeded this goal even as it reduced freshman enrollment by 2,300 students.
UC Director of Undergraduate Admissions Susan Wilbur said the university intends to maintain or increase its transfer enrollment numbers for next year.
“It is likely that the university will slightly reduce enrollment of freshmen for the upcoming year, though the cuts will not be as high as they were this past fall,” Wilbur said. “However, even if we reduce overall enrollment, we don’t expect that this will affect transfer applicants.”
Wada attributed much of the increase to greater communication efforts by the university.
“UC has really made an effort over the past year to increase its number of transfer [students],” he said. “We are doing everything we can to inform the public that transferring from a community college is a very viable method of obtaining a degree.”
The increase could also be a result of the California State University system’s decision to not accept any transfers for the current semester, in response to its 20 percent budget shortfall.
“Historically, CSU has taken in large numbers of transfer students for the spring term,” Wilbur said. “Since they chose not to do that this year, we think that a part, but not all, of the increase is due to the fact that students are applying more broadly to cover their bases.”
Adrian Lopez, spokesperson for Yuba Community Colleges, said that the economy could be a factor in the increase.
“With California’s unemployment at over 10 percent and even higher in parts of Yuba County, a lot of our students are realizing that a four-year degree is a smart move,” Lopez said. “Students who in the past may have been satisfied with something less [than a four-year degree] are now looking at going further to give themselves the skills they will need.”
Encouraging transfer students has long been a priority for the university, Wada said.
“The concept of enrolling community college transfers has been a part of California’s master plan for education since 1960,” he said. “It is primarily meant to ensure that the state’s public universities are providing opportunity and access to all California residents.”
Lopez said it is important for the university to maintain a commitment to community college students as part of its goals for scholarship and diversity.
“A lot of data shows that students who do their first two years at a community college fare better once they enter a university than those who do not,” he said. “Community colleges also offer the diversity aspect-we serve more Latino and African-American groups than any other academic institution in the United States.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at email@example.com.