Access Provisions of the California Master Plan for Higher Education

The 1960 Master Plan provided that UC was to "select from" the top one-eighth (12.5%) of the high school graduating class and CSU was to "select from" the top one-third (33.3%) of the high school graduating class. The California Community Colleges were to admit any student capable of benefiting from instruction

1960 Master Plan language for UC and CSU::

It is recommended that:
1. In order to raise materially standards for admission to the lower division, the state colleges select first-time freshmen from the top one-third (33 per cent) and the University from the top one-eighth (12½ percent) of all graduates of California public high schools with … [g]raduates of private and out-of-state secondary schools to be held to equivalent levels. [pp. 73-74, A Master Plan for Higher Education in California, Sacramento, 1960]

Footnotes left definition of the top 1/3rd and top 1/8th to the respective systems.

However, subsequent UC and CSU practice and eventually Master Plan policy evolved to provide that all California residents in the top one-eighth or top one-third of the statewide high school graduating class who apply on time be offered a place somewhere in the UC or CSU system, respectively, though not necessarily at the campus or in the major of first choice. UC policy documents show this to be the practice even in the 1960s and it was the general understanding in the 1970s and 1980s. The last two legislative review of the Master Plan made the promise or guarantee of access to all eligible students explicit:

The 1989 Joint Legislative Committee (co-chairs Senator Hart and Assembly Member Vasconcellos) report stated:

The University of California shall guarantee admission as a first-time freshman to every student who ranks among the top one-eighth of all California public high school graduates, with graduates of private and out-of-state secondary schools held to at least equivalent levels. [p. 25, California Faces…California's Future, Joint Committee for Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education, Sacramento, March 1989]

The 2002 Joint Legislative Committee (chair: Senator Alpert) report recommends:

Recommendation 12. The California State University and University of California systems should continue to adhere to the policy of guaranteeing that all students who apply for freshman admission and who are eligible to attend (students within the top one-third, in the case of California State University applicants, and the top one-eighth, in the case of University of California applicants) are offered admission to the system(s) for which they are eligible and have applied. Community colleges should continue to be open to all high school graduates and adults who can benefit from postsecondary instruction. [p. 40, The California Master Plan for Education, Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education, Sacramento, 2002]

There are some references in state law to this issue:

Section 66202.5 of the Education Code states:

The State of California reaffirms its historic commitment to ensure adequate resources to support enrollment growth, within the systemwide academic and individual campus plans to accommodate eligible California freshmen applicants and eligible California Community College transfer students, as specified in Sections 66202 and 66730.

The University of California and the California State University are expected to plan that adequate spaces are available to accommodate all California resident students who are eligible and likely to apply to attend an appropriate place within the system. The State of California likewise reaffirms its historic commitment to ensure that resources are provided to make this expansion possible, and shall commit resources to ensure that students from enrollment categories designated in subdivision (a) of Section 66202 are accommodated in a place within the system.

Section 66011 states:

66011. (a) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Legislature that all resident applicants to California institutions of public higher education, who are determined to be qualified by law or by admission standards established by the respective governing boards, should be admitted to either (1) a district of the California Community Colleges, in accordance with Section 76000, (2) the California State University, or (3) the University of California.

Section 66741 on transfer students states:

Alternatively, students may also, by meeting the University of California or California State University requirements for admission at the advanced standing level, simply wish to apply as required. All students meeting these admission requirements shall be guaranteed a place somewhere in the University of California or California State University system, as appropriate.

UC Educational Relations Department
UC Office of the President
May 2004
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