The number of first-year and transfer students applying to UC Merced grew by 13.5 percent over last year, the biggest increase of any University of California campus, the school reported Monday.
A total of 22,632 students applied for the 2,100 undergraduate seats that will be open in the fall 2016 semester. It marks the second consecutive year that the growth in UC Merced applications outpaced other schools in the UC system, which saw an overall growth rate of 6.4 percent.
The 10-year-old campus, the youngest of the UC campuses, enrolled 6,700 students as of fall 2015. Under a growth plan approved by the UC Board of Regents in November, the so-called 2020 Project, the size of the campus will double by 2020 and enrollment will expand to up to 10,000 students.
The university projects enrollment to be about 7,100 students at the start of the 2016-17 school year, said Jill Orcutt, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management.
“I think this is positive news as we continue to move to complete the 2020 Project,” Orcutt said. “Our growth goal is 10,000 students by 2020, so this is just a good sign that there’s continued interest and demand for a UC Merced education.”
22,632Number of applications to UC Merced for fall semester
Orcutt said the increase in applications is evidence that the university’s reputation is growing. As a smaller campus, for example, UC Merced is more likely to offer first-year students a chance to participate in research than other schools. “The word is getting out that UC Merced is a great option for getting a University of California education,” she said.
Classroom and Office Building 2, scheduled to open in April, will add more than 77,000 square feet of space, including classrooms and research labs.
Data released Monday by the UC Office of the President, shows UC Merced received 19,683 applications from prospective first-year students, a 12 percent increase from last year and a nearly 30 percent increase from 2014. UC Merced also received 2,949 transfer student applications for the fall, an increase of 27 percent compared with last year.
Of the nine UC campuses that admit undergraduate students, UC Merced continued to see the fewest number of applications. The much larger campuses at UCLA, Berkeley and San Diego each drew more than 100,000 applications for fall 2016. The system’s second-smallest campus, UC Santa Cruz which opened in 1965, drew 59,102 applications.
More than 90 percent of the first-year students applying to UC Merced come from California. A little more than 1,200 applied from abroad and 445 applied from out-of-state.
The current Bobcat population is roughly split three ways between those from the Bay Area, Southern California and the Central Valley.
Again this year, UC Merced leads the system in the percentage of applicants who come from low-income households (60 percent), and whose parents didn’t receive a four-year degree (66 percent).
The word is getting out that UC Merced is a great option for getting a University of California education.
Jill Orcutt, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management
“We are excited to continue to witness record interest from those looking to attend our vibrant campus,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said in a news release. “This sustained interest is the momentum we need as we move toward accomplishing our goals of the 2020 Project.”
The university also plans to add new courses to its University of California Cooperative Extension offerings, including classes on drones, mental health and employment law, among others.
The deadline to apply to UC Merced’s graduate programs is Friday.