December 16, 2021

LAWT News Service


The Campaign for College Opportunity released its new report, Shut Out: The Need to Increase Access to the University of California and the California State University. The report highlights data trends and challenges faced by California high school students and community college transfer students, as admissions to the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) systems become increasingly competitive and too many talented students are shut out, due to funding and capacity constraints.

The report provides an analysis of California’s progress and barriers related to increasing degree attainment and growing the racial/ethnic diversity of the student body.

Shut Out highlights the persistent disparities students face in accessing California’s public universities while offering recommendations for policymakers and campus leaders to ensure more students have an equal opportunity to attend and succeed in college and work urgently to close racial/equity gaps.

Starting with the good news:

• More California students (50%) are graduating from high school having completed the coursework required for admission to the UC and CSU.

• The share of high school graduates applying to the UC has grown from 17 percent in 2001 to 25 percent in 2017, while the share applying to the CSU has also grown from 27 percent to 41 percent during that time frame.

• A record number of Latinx students were admitted to UC in the Fall of 2021.

• Among the CSU freshman class, Latinx students make up 54% - matching their share of high school graduates.

• CSU graduation rates have increased for Black and Latinx students.

“Families and students understand the growing value of a college degree, but despite doing everything to prepare for college, too many talented students are being shut out of California’s public universities. Today we need the CSU and UC to admit and enroll more students while ensuring they graduate so we can provide the kind of college opportunity and success that reflects the rich diversity of our state,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of The Campaign for College Opportunity. “California is turning away the human capital we need to stay economically competitive and retain our standing as the 5th largest economy in the world; that needs to change urgently.”

Despite record-breaking admission numbers, the CSU and UC are shutting out too many California students from their higher education dreams, especially for Black and Latinx Californians.

More on these troubling trends:

• The average high school GPA of students admitted to the UC has increased to above 4.0 for nearly all nine UC campuses.

• 16 of the 23 CSU campuses are impacted at the freshman level, meaning that more eligible students apply than there are seats available, and the campuses are able to raise admissions requirements after students apply.

• Black freshmen students in the CSU have dropped from 7.2 percent of the class enrolling in 2007 to only 4.5 percent in 2020.

• The share of the state budget invested in higher education declined from 18 percent in the mid-1970s to 11 percent in 2018-19, where it remains as of the 2021-22 budget.

Outdated public university eligibility targets from 1960 and insufficient state funding for higher education have contributed to the challenges the UC and CSU face around capacity. In response to the dynamic of more qualified students applying than seats available, the CSU system has come to rely on “impaction,” which allows them to increase admission requirements for campuses and majors that are in high demand. The UC system is relying on a system of “referral,” which guarantees competitive students admission to a UC campus but only UC Merced is an option for these referred students, most of whom will not enroll there.

“Over half of California high school graduates are Latino, yet Latinos face a significant gap in representation at the University of California system,” said Thomas A. Saenz, President & General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).   “California cannot continue to thrive unless we address this gap faced by our state’s largest racial/ethnic group.  Access expansion, achieved through multiple means, is an essential element in reducing and ultimately eliminating this problematic gap.”

“Access to public higher education in California is access to a brighter future. Yet, more than sixty years after the Master Plan for Higher Education was adopted, there are still too many roadblocks for what is now a highly diverse state with a majority minority population that has become the fifth largest economy in the world. This report updates the Plan for the 21st Century,” added Lillian Kimbell, Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees.

You can access the full report here:

About The Campaign for College Opportunity:

The Campaign for College Opportunity is a California bipartisan policy and research non-profit organization focused on a single mission: to ensure all Californians have an equal opportunity to attend and succeed in college in order to build a vibrant workforce, economy and democracy. For more information, visit / or follow @CollegeOpp.

Category: News