The University of California, Berkeley may need to cut its enrollment this year — by a significant margin. Wondering why? Because the UC flagship is mired in a legal battle with a resident group known as Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods. The group contends that the public university fails to offer ample on-campus housing for its students, including its out-of-state and international students and this is detrimentally impacting housing in the surrounding neighborhood. And now the group, which filed a lawsuit against the UC flagship, has a ruling by a state appellate court in its favor. According to the ruling, UC Berkeley must maintain its 2020-2021 enrollment. As our readers may recall, enrollment dropped significantly that year due to all the students who opted to take gap years as a result of the pandemic. By freezing enrollment at 42,347 students, there would be 3,050 fewer seats in the incoming class. This, of course, is not good news for applicants to the UC Berkeley Class of 2026.
As Maria Cramer reports for The New York Times in a piece entitled “U.C. Berkeley Says It May Have to Cut Student Admissions by Thousands,” “The university said in a statement that it stands to lose at least $57 million in tuition. To stay at 2020-21 enrollment levels, the university said, it would need to make ‘a reduction of at least 5,100 in undergraduate admission offers.’ The University of California Board of Regents has appealed the case to the State Supreme Court in the hopes of avoiding ‘a calamitous scenario for our students and our campus,’ the statement said…Since 2005, the university has admitted 14,000 students but provided only 1,600 beds, said Phil Bokovoy, president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, which sued the university in 2018. As a result, students have sought housing in Berkeley’s neighborhoods, moving into apartments that were once rent-controlled and displacing low-income and middle-income residents, Mr. Bokovoy said.”
So where does this leave applicants to the UC Berkeley Class of 2026? Well, it’s not looking good. The UC Board of Regents of course appealed the appellate court’s decision to the California Supreme Court, asking for an immediate stay on the lower court’s ruling. After all, $57 million in lost tuition dollars is difficult for the university to swallow. But will the State Supreme Court rule in favor of UC Berkeley or the neighborhood group? 5,100 slots in admissions for the Class of 2026 are at stake, including 3,050 seats in the incoming class. The California Supreme Court, and not the UC Berkeley admissions committee, is thus firmly in control of just how the Class of 2026 will shake out. Imagine being an admissions office at Cal this year! It’s more or less pencils down until the ruling.
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