The spring semester is well underway at local California universities, but all eyes are on the fall and how to get back on campus. LA Times education reporter Teresa Watanabe has been following the story and shared some other updates on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted students and universities in California in various ways.
“I think it has been really hard for students and faculty. As you know, come March, when the pandemic started rising in California, all the colleges shut down. They sent their students home and scrambled to somehow construct online learning. They started losing a ton of money; the UC system has lost $2.2 billion because they have had all these extra COVID costs for testing and cleaning, and they have lost all their revenue for dorms, dining, and sports events. So it has been hard for the students who are no longer able to have their college experience. Now they are home stuck in front of a computer,” said Watanabe.
Despite the hardships caused by the pandemic, UC schools have seen record-breaking applications for fall 2021. There has been a surge in Black, Latino, and other underrepresented students seeking admission.
“It was a record-shattering year for the UC system. They got nearly 250,000 applications, which was a 16% increase over last year. UCLA and UC Berkeley both had 28% increases in their applications and the most diverse applicant pool they have ever seen. Outstandingly, Berkeley and UCLA both received a 48% increase in Black applicants; Latinos were 33-36%, and system-wide, I think Latinos were up by 12% and African Americans up by 22%. So it has been phenomenal,” added Watanabe.
There are several reasons why there has been an increase in applications, and one of those reasons is that UC schools dropped the SAT and ACT requirement.
“So, you suddenly have all these students who had the choice not to send in their scores, and because of a court ruling this year, UC’s were banned from using test scores entirely. As a result, you had this surge of students who threw their hat in the ring because they did not have to worry about the SAT and ACT scores. The second reason for the surge is because of the pandemic effect. We spoke to students who were stuck at home all day and could not go out to do their club activities; they could not hang out with friends, so they decided to apply to UC schools,” said Watanabe.
Questions have been raised about the cost of tuition at California universities during the pandemic.
“There have been lawsuits filed against the California universities; part of a national movement to try and challenge the charging of tuition and fees. Those lawsuits have not gotten anywhere yet. The UC says they are still delivering a first-class education over a computer, but they are still moving their students toward a degree. The thing is, the UC and most of California colleges are expecting that they will be back in person for the fall. Once that happens, I do not think we will see any momentum, tuitions strikes, or more petitions or lawsuits,” said Watanabe.
The University of California’s record-shattering applications for fall 2021 show remarkable surges in Black, Latino and other underrepresented students seeking admission. https://t.co/cQnDugrkKZ— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) January 29, 2021