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UCal Accused of Favoring International Students Over Locals

ucla campus with students walking by
Students participate in an activity near Royce Hall on the campus of University of California at Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 20 July 2020 01:20 PM

The University of California has been admitting underqualified international students ahead of some of the state’s top students, according to a lawsuit. 

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the suit claims the university’s administrators are using a loophole to get around a California requirement that the schools admit the top 9% of state high school graduates.

According to state reports and interviews with current and former faculty members, international students, who pay higher tuition costs, have been unseating locally qualified students.

A California mother of two college students, who filed a civil lawsuit, claims that the UC system is discriminating against local students. The suit claims that UC administrators are denying admission to in-state residents in favor of international students. According to the filing, Dawn Urbanek demands financial compensation for 110,000 in-state applicants who were denied admission over the last decade and pushed to more expensive out-of-state schools.

In 2017, admissions data showed that 13.9% of the student body was made up of international students. That number is up from 4.8% a decade earlier. Of the international student population, about 75% of the students are from China.

"Over the past several years, the university has undermined its commitment to residents in an effort to increase its revenue by recruiting and enrolling nonresidents," state auditor Elaine Howle wrote in 2016.

The auditor recommended a reform to the current admission process because it was pushing students out of state after referring them to a less prestigious state school if they were denied from their top pick.

International students pay full tuition, which is typically more than a student from California pays for their education.

A spokesman for the university system stated admission practices are not intended to hurt California residents. He argued that international students help cover the bill for in-state residents.

University spokesman Stett Holbrook said the university caps out-of-state enrollment at 18% and that all qualified in-state students are offered a spot at one of the UC schools, even if it is not their top choice.

"Tuition and fees for international students are about $30,000 more than the tuition and fees paid by California residents," Holbrook said. "The higher tuition and fees paid by out-of-state students — about two-thirds of which are international students — help to support and to subsidize the cost of a UC education for California residents."

Administrators told the Free Beacon that the international student body was superior to in-state residents. In 2019, they said the international students had higher GPAs and SAT scores.

"I don't think [the admissions office stops] to think about how it affects these kids," Urbanek told the Washington Free Beacon. "These kids are slapped in the face right out the door and it's just heartbreaking."

Her complaint was denied by the California Office of Civil Rights in June. The office ruled the plaintiffs could not point to a particular student hurt by the policies. Urbanek is now appealing the decision.

Her complaint claims that the university took advantage of a "referral process," in which Californian teens are denied admission to a top-choice school but offered a seat at a less-desirable institution.

The state auditor found in 2016 that all of the referred applicants were directed to the bottom-ranked UC Merced, which sees 99% of admitted students enroll at another school. A 2019 state report found that more than 10,000 highly qualified Californian students were referred to Merced and that nearly all of them turned down the acceptance offer.

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The University of California has been admitting underqualified international students ahead of some of the state's top students, according to a lawsuit. The Washington Free Beacon reports that the suit claims the university's administrators are using a loophole to get around a California...
UC system, california, universities, international students, admission
Monday, 20 July 2020 01:20 PM
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