The University of California failed to prevent student admissions based on improper influence and other inappropriate factors, according to a state audit released Tuesday, which found that more than five dozen applicants were unfairly admitted to four UC campuses, including UCLA.
The audit, which examined admissions between the academic years of 2013-14 through 2018-19, found that UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara admitted 64 applicants “based on their personal or family connections to donors and university staff,” according to a letter sent by California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle to Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders.
The majority of the allegations were leveled at UC Berkeley, which admitted 42 students based on their families’ connections to the school, ” even though their records did not demonstrate competitive qualifications for admission,” according to Howle.
The remaining 22 students were admitted to the four schools as athletes, despite lacking the athletic qualifications necessary, the audit found. Of those, four students were found to be improperly admitted to UCLA.
The audit states that those 22 students did not substantially participate on the school teams they were recruited for, and that donations or potential donations, as well as the applicant’s familial influence and connections, played a role in designating them as student-athletes. The review states that each campus lacked sufficient oversight for verifying that the applicants were qualified.
UCLA said it was reviewing the audit and was “committed to a transparent admissions process that is fair, consistent and equitable.”
Howle alleged the UC system has failed to ensure prospective students are fairly evaluated, that staff who review and rate applications are not properly trained or monitored, and that admissions were “unduly dependent” on the individual staff who review the applications.
She also wrote that the school system conducted an internal review beginning last year following the wide-ranging admissions scandal that involved UCLA and UC Berkeley, but Howle said the internal review “relied heavily on campuses to review themselves and did not attempt to identify inappropriate admissions activity.”
The state auditor’s office said the 64 students referenced in the audit are separate from any students involved in the admissions bribery scandal that led to a host of federal prosecutions against parents and staff of various universities, including USC.
Howle said stronger standards and oversight are recommended in order to ensure a fair admissions process and curtail similar practices in the future.
“The Office of the President has allowed the weaknesses in these practices to persist because it has not conducted adequate oversight of campuses’ admissions processes,” Howle said.