Campus & community, Campus news

Court orders UC Berkeley to freeze student enrollment

By Public Affairs

Chancellor Carol Christ and Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Catherine Koshland sent this message to the campus community Monday:

We’re writing to share some important information about a rapidly evolving situation of enormous, potential significance. A decision issued on Thursday, Feb. 10 by the California Court of Appeal requires UC Berkeley to adhere to a lower court order requiring the university to freeze student enrollment at 42,347, the same level as 2020-21. (The decision was one element of a larger lawsuit brought by a city of Berkeley group of neighbors opposed to a proposed campus development project.)

Today, the university appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court of California.

If left intact, the court’s decision would have a devastating impact on prospective students, university admissions, campus operations, and the university’s ability to serve California students by meeting the enrollment targets set by the state of California.

What makes the impacts so extreme is that, due to the pandemic, 2020-21 was an anomalous academic year when enrollment dropped as a large number of new and continuing graduate and undergraduate students decided to temporarily suspend their enrollment. By tying its unprecedented action to the 2020-2021 academic year, the court has effectively forced future enrollment to match the dramatically lower enrollment rate experienced during the height of the pandemic. As a result, the campus is currently estimating that it would be forced by the court order to reduce the number of new undergraduate students enrolled for the 2022-23 academic year by about one-third. That amounts to at least 3,050 fewer undergraduate students than what our 2022-23 enrollment planning currently calls for.

This court-mandated decrease in enrollment would be a tragic outcome for thousands of students who have worked incredibly hard to gain admission to Berkeley.

There would also be serious financial consequences if the enrollment reduction is implemented, impacting operations across the university and affecting already enrolled students. The campus currently projects that the court-mandated reduction in enrollment would result in at least $57 million in lost tuition, fees, and state support, which would impact our ability to deliver instruction, provide financial aid for low and middle-income students, adequately fund critical student services, and maintain our facilities.

If you are interested in further details and background information related to this situation, it can be found in our full statement . Given the potentially devastating impact for Californians, we expect media coverage.

We want to assure you that we are pursuing every possible option for avoiding what would be a calamitous scenario for students and our campus. And, should we not succeed in our efforts to keep the enrollment freeze from being implemented, we will do everything in our power to mitigate the impacts on prospective students, and current members of the campus community.

We will keep you updated as this situation evolves.