Merced leads state in UC applications increase

Led by numbers from its Merced campus, the University of California announced Thursday it had received a record number of applications for the coming academic year, even as the possibility of enrollment cuts loomed.

The data showed a jump in applications from minority, international and community college students, as well as an increase in freshman applications. The number of students applying for undergraduate admission for fall 2010 grew by nearly 6% -- from about 127,000 a year ago to more than 134,000.

All 10 campuses reported application gains. UC Merced had the biggest jump with 12,366 applications, 21% more than last year.

UC Merced's freshman applications totaled 10,594, up 17.3% from 9,034 in 2009. Transfer applications rose 49.5% to 1,772 from 1,185 in 2009.

The number of freshman applications alone exceeds the total number of freshman and transfer applications combined for 2009. Since the university opened in the fall of 2005, applications have increased 39%, said Kevin Browne, assistant vice chancellor of enrollment management.

Browne credited UC Merced's place as the newest UC campus for its popularity.

Applicants could be vying for even fewer slots than last year, when the UC system cut enrollment of California-resident freshmen by 6% -- about 2,300 students -- to cover budget shortfalls.

Susan Wilbur, director of undergraduate admissions, said officials were discussing a comparable reduction for fall 2010, though a final decision has not been made.

The university was buoyed last week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget, which included better-than-expected funding for the UC system. The proposal gave hope that enrollment reductions could be curtailed, Wilbur said.