Few surprises await them
UC Berkeley students return to campus this week to face higher tuition, better housing options and a chance to take an entire science course on-line.
Tuition for California residents jumps a modest two percent, from $4,122 last year to $4,200 this year, to help pay for dental insurance and student transit passes. The $4,200 bill compares to a UC system-wide average of $3,859. But it still falls below the $5,864 average resident tuition for four universities that UC references for comparison – the University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Virginia and State University of New York.
Out-of-state undergraduates, meanwhile, will face a significant hike in tuition at all nine UC campuses, with the annual bill moving from $10,704 to $12,009.
The UC Board of Regents approved the non-resident hike in July, in the face of uncertain state funding, to help pay for system-wide outreach programs for kindergarten-through-12th grade students and health benefits for employees.
While tuition is on the rise, university officials say the housing situation should be gentler this year. A new university-run complex, the College-Durant apartments, opened this weekend, providing 120 new on-campus beds.
Officials also say that Berkeley rents are declining. According to a study released earlier this month by the university-run Cal Rentals, rent for a one-bedroom apartment dipped from $1,375 in July 2001 to $1,202 in July 2002.
But UC Berkeley graduate student and City Council candidate Andy Katz points out that the July 2002 figure is still higher than the July 2000 figure of $1,101.
“Instead of rents being astronomically unaffordable, they are only ridiculously unaffordable,” he said, arguing that more needs to be done to ease the housing crunch.
The university has about 900 more on-campus beds in the pipeline, with the first becoming available in 2005.
More students will be competing for housing this year, with total student enrollment expected to jump from 31,500 to 32,500, despite a dip in undergraduate acceptances.
The student body will be a little more diverse this year. The percentage of “underrepresented minorities” – American Indians, African-Americans and Latinos – accepted as undergraduates grew from 17.1 percent last year to 17.5 percent this year.
Some attribute the growth of minority acceptances at UC Berkeley and system-wide, where the figure moved from 18.6 percent to 19.1 percent, to a new admissions policy put in place this year called “comprehensive review.”
Previously, the university selected 50 to 75 percent of students based on academic factors alone and picked the remainder based on a combination of academics and other qualities like leadership and perseverance. Under comprehensive review, all students are admitted based upon a combination of academics and other factors.
Critics say the system is too subjective and may provide a way around a 1997 ban on considering race in admissions.
But UC spokesman Hanan Eisenman said comprehensive review did not significantly increase underrepresented minority acceptances.
“We didn’t think it was going to impact the class in terms of ethnic composition and it really didn’t,” he said.
This year, all UC Berkeley students will also face a revised slate of courses that will touch upon terrorism and the war in Afghanistan as well as an entirely on-line course that will focus on the study of gems and other stones.
Officials are hush-hush about the details of the on-line course, which will be unveiled Thursday during a back-to-school press conference hosted by UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl.
Contact reporter at