July 18, 2019

Dear California High School Students and Recent High School Graduates-

I am aware that many of California's highest achieving students have been stunned to realize that despite all of the time, the effort and the work that you did to prepare yourself for college admissions, that the results may not have turned out as you expected.

I want to explain why, so that none of you will feel that it was the result of anything that you did or did not do. The State of California has failed to honor its promise to California resident students. And, the University of California has strayed from its Master Plan Mandate. As a result, many of you have been denied the educational opportunity that was guaranteed to you by the State of California under Ed Code Section 66202.5 and California's Master Plan for Higher Education.

California's Master Plan for Higher Education was enacted in 1960 as the Donahoe Higher Education Act.  The Plan sought to assure appropriate educational opportunities at reasonable costs to all qualified California students. 

In setting up California's higher education system the Master Plan established principals of universal access for entrance into each of its three segments:

The UC was designated the state's primary academic research institution. The UC was set up to provide undergraduate, graduate and professional education and doctoral degrees in law, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. The UC was to select from among the top one-eighth (12.5%) of California's high school graduating class.

The CSU's were to provide undergraduate and graduate education in teaching and professions other than those designated to the UC. CSU was to select from among the top one-third (33.3%) of California's high school graduating class.

California's Community Colleges were designed to admit any student capable of benefiting from instruction. 

The Master Plan has an "Access Guarantee" which was intented to guarantee all qualified California resident students who graduated from high school, an appropriate seat at a UC or CSU. 

Working together, the UC and the California Legislature codified this promise with Education Code section 66202.5 which states:

"The University of California and the California State University are expected to plan that adequate spaces are available to accommodate all California resident students who are eligible and likely to apply to attend an appropriate place within the system.The State of California likewise reaffirms its historic commitment to ensure that resources are provided to make this expansion possible, and shall commit resources to ensure that [eligible] students ….. are accommodated in a place within the system.”

The State of California has broken its promise to you, and to the California taxpayer.

The University of California has unilaterally modified the Master Plan such that it no longer complies with Education Code 66202.5.

A 2015 audit of the University of California found that the changes in admissions policies put California resident students at a disadvantage to Out-Of-State and International students by denying California resident students admission to a school of their choice. In contrast, Out-Of-State and International students are guaranteed admission to at least one school of their choice.

California Resident students who were eligible for admission to a UC or CSU, and were not offered admission to a school of there choice, are offered spots at an alternative campus through a referral process.

Unfortunately for California resident students, the state has allowed the UC system to sell so many seats to Out-Of-State and International students, that the only school that is available through the referral process in the UC is UC Merced.

The 2015 audit and a more recent LAO report found that less then 1% of the California resident students offered UC Merced enrolled. UC Merced is not an appropriate school for many California resident students placed in the referral pool. In fact the 2015 audit found that 4,300 California resident students that were placed in the referral pool had academic scores that met or exceeded all median scores for nonresidents whom the University admitted to a school of their choice.

As a result of these policy changes, California resident student enrollment continues to decline, from 87% in 2011 to 76% in 2018. Out of State and International student enrollment has increased from 13% in 2011 to 24% in 2018. 

The University system no longer gives priority enrollment to California resident students. In fact, priority is given to International students from Asia and the Middle East. 

88% of the International students come from Asia and the Middle East.

61% of the 88% are from The Peoples Republic of China.

12% represent all other countries in the World

When the Master Plan was conceived, the California Legislature expressed its desire to have the student population reflect the diversity of the State. However, the current ethnic make-up of  students is so strongly weighted to students from Asia and the Middle East that the student population no longer reflects the diversity of the State of California.

As a qualified California resident student, you are being denied equality of educational opportunity which is a violation of your civil rights.

California taxpayers have been financially damaged as a result.

Qualified California resident students who were denied an appropriate seat at a UC or CSU are forced to seek admission to Out-of State and Private Universities outside the UC system. Tuition for a California resident student at a UC or CSU is about $15,000 per year. Tuition at an Out-of -State or Private College or University outside the UC system is approximately $55,000 per year. This means that California families denied admission will be forced to pay an additional $160,000 [$55,000 - $15,000= $40,000 X 4 years] their child with an equivalent education. Contrast that to an International or Out -of-State student that attends California schools at $44,000 per year, and is subsidized by your families tax dollars.

The State has $55 billion dollars in the High Speed Rail account, a project that is not moving forward. As such they have the money to keep their promise to California resident students.

In an effort to try and ring this injustice to the publics attention so that this can be fixed, last night at the CUSD BOT meeting I presented them with a RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF FAIR ADMISSION OF CALIFORNIA RESIDENT STUDENTS TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA and requested that it be placed on the next board meeting agenda with a request that the Resolution be sent to the Attorney General for the State of California for the purpose of mandating that the University of California comply with the law and the original intent of the UC Master Plan Mandate which was to guarantee admission to all "QUALIFIED" graduates of California Public High Schools that are in the top 1/8, (12 1/2 per cent) of their high school graduating class; and give them admission to at least one UC School of their choice.

Dawn Urbanek,

Taxpayer and Student Advocate 


Supporting Documentation