Some 1,300 new freshmen plan to enroll at UC Merced next fall, the University of California Office of the President confirmed Tuesday.
The Merced campus received 1,358 statements of intent to register -- non-binding forms which incoming students must return to the university they expect to attend -- from prospective students this year.
That's a 27 percent increase from the 1,069 forms returned last spring.
"This is extremely encouraging news and further evidence of UC Merced's growing stature and visibility throughout California," Chancellor Steve Kang wrote in a memo to students at the close of this academic year.
UC Merced also had the largest increase of admissions offers to transfer students throughout the 10-campus system, welcoming 32 percent more community college transfer students than last year.
The campus offered admission to 2,153 community college transfer students, but statement of intent information is not available on that student population yet.
Last year, 1,675 transfer students were offered admission and 137 enrolled in the fall.
Kevin Browne, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management, predicted that the numbers put the university on track for a total fall enrollment of 3,200 students.
"This is the third banner year in a row for UC Merced," Browne said in a statement released by the college. "This proves that even in these uncertain fiscal times, families recognize the benefits of a UC Merced education and value the experience we offer our students."
A sizable number of students who submitted statements of intent to register belonged to the university-wide referral pool. Students who did not get into their first-choice school were offered admission to either the Merced or Riverside campuses this year; 238 statements of intent were received by Merced from the referral pool this year, up from about 100 last year.
Over time, enrollment at the campus has sometimes fallen below projections.
The school's second-year population was nearly 600 students short of projections. Administrators first expected to add 800 new students to campus every year, but after the shortfall in fall 2006, the numbers were scaled back.
Nevertheless, Merced remains the most diverse campus in the UC system.
Just under 46 percent of admitted students this year were under-represented minorities (African American, American Indian and Chicano/Latino).
Thirty-six percent of admitted students self-identified themselves as Chicano/Latino. African American applicants were most likely to accept admission; 11 percent of those offered a spot sent back a statement of intent to register.
Academic programs continue to develop as funding allows, according to the campus statement. Sociology has been approved as a new major for the fall, and the university is planning a school of management and a school of medicine.
More than 58,000 offers of admission were sent to California applicants for the fall 2009 freshman class throughout the UC system this year; 7,570 of those offers were sent by the Merced campus, with an additional 11,213 offers sent to the referral pool.
UC Merced opened in 2005, with a student population of 875 students. The university expects to enroll 25,000 students -- 22,250 undergraduates and 2,750 graduate students -- within 30 years.
Reporter Danielle Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.