University of California Wrongly Admitted 64 Wealthy and Well-Connected Students: Audit

September 22, 2020 Updated: September 22, 2020

Sixty-four wealthy and well-connected students were inappropriately admitted to the University of California (UC) as favors to donors, family, and friends, denying more qualified applicants educational opportunities, a state audit found.

The inappropriate admissions took place over a six-year period, according to Elaine Howle, the state auditor.

Those admitted included the child of a prominent alumnus, a child of a major donor, a child whose family was friends with a Regent, and a person who babysat for a colleague of the former director of undergraduate admissions.

Campus staff falsely designated 22 applicants as student-athlete recruits, either because of donations from well-connected families or as favors for them.

Campuses didn’t verify whether the recruits “were actually talented in the sport they purportedly played,” the audit stated.

Emails obtained by the auditing team showed an assistant coach telling a head coach that the family’s recruiting agent had offered a donation if their child was admitted as a student-athlete.

The assistant coach said he held off saying “thanks/no thanks” and three days later, told the agent that the head coach was “open to opportunities and would like to speak on the phone” before asking for more information about the applicant.

Epoch Times Photo
Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California at Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., May 10, 2018. (Ben Margot/AP Photo)

One campus, UC Berkley, admitted another 42 applicants through its normal admissions process based on the applicants’ connections to staff, leadership, and donors, despite the applicants not being as qualified as others who weren’t admitted.

Several parents of children attending the University of California were swept up in the prosecution of the college admissions bribery scheme last year, including Xiaoning Sui, a 48-year-old Chinese-Canadian who was charged with paying $400,000 to get her son into the system as a fake soccer recruit.

Sui agreed to plead guilty to one count of federal programs bribery this year.

Other admission-related problems were uncovered in the audit.

Two campuses have regularly admitted applicants whom reviewers identified as less competitive even as they denied admission to applicants that came more highly recommended by reviewers.

And three campuses selected hundreds of applicants for admission who had not met eligibility requirements.

The University of California, a state school, is composed of nine campuses. It’s considered the state’s most selective public postsecondary education system.

UC President Michael Drake said in a statement sent to The Epoch Times that the university would “swiftly address the concerns the State Auditor raised.”

“Furthermore, individuals involved in improper activities will be disciplined appropriately,” he added.

The university’s internal audits had identified many of the same issues but the new information will help the school system with its progress in rectifying the problems, according to Davis.

In an Aug. 27 letter to Howle, President Michael Drake said the university “is committed to safeguarding the integrity of its admissions practices.

“We hold ourselves to the highest standards and will take prompt action to address issues raised in the State Auditor’s draft report,” he added. “Many of the draft report’s recommendations are similar to those that our internal audits identified and presented to the Board of Regents over the past year, and that UC campuses and the Office of the President have largely implemented. The draft report identified important issues that will help us in addressing any ongoing problems.”

Howle’s office responded by saying the university’s internal audits and its recommendations “did not address significant aspects of the admissions process that we reviewed during our audit,” adding: “Furthermore, our recommendations are stronger than those made by the university’s internal audit and address serious deficiencies that it did not identify. Left unaddressed, these issues will continue to harm qualified applicants who apply to the university.”

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