UC System Has “Inconsistent and Unfair” Admissions System, Audit Finds

The University of California system uses an “inconsistent and unfair admissions system that has been improperly influenced by relationship and monetary donations,” the state auditor reported September 22.

The auditor reviewed the general admissions practices of UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego, as well as the admission of athletes at those campuses and at UC Santa Barbara.

The findings:

  • Campus staff took advantage of weaknesses in admissions processes to inappropriately admit 64 students as favors to donors, family, and friends.

  • Campus staff used the campuses’ weak athletics admissions processes to admit 22 of the 64 students, “even though they possessed little athletic talent.”

  • UC Berkeley admitted 42 applicants through its regular admissions process based on their connections to donors and staff, while concurrently denying admission to others who were more qualified.

  • Campuses lack key criteria and standards to support their admissions decisions.

  • Campuses have not adequately ensured that reviewers and faculty consistently and fairly evaluate applications.

Regarding its findings of improprieties at the Berkeley campus, the auditor wrote: “The pervasiveness of this problem at UC Berkeley demonstrates that campus leadership has failed to establish a campus culture that values commitment to an admissions process based on fairness and applicants’ merits and achievements.”

The auditor found that the Office of the UC President also shirked its responsibilities.

“The university’s Office of the President has not reviewed the campuses’ admissions processes to detect and prevent unfair or inconsistent practices,” the auditor wrote. “Instead, it has allowed weaknesses to persist for years.”


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