State Audit Finds Scores of Applicants Admitted to UC Schools Without Merit

An audit of the University of California's admissions process has concluded that at least 64 students were improperly admitted to University of California schools because of financial or family connections, rather than merit.

The review by California State Auditor Elaine Howle comes 18 months after a college admissions scandal that ensnared celebrities like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. And while this type of nepotism and unfairness has long been suspected, the auditor’s report is still jarring.

“By admitting 64 noncompetitive applicants, the university undermined the fairness and integrity of its admissions process and deprived more qualified students of the opportunity for admission," Howle said in a statement. "The university has also failed to ensure that campuses fairly and consistently treat the thousands of prospective students who apply each year."

The improper admissions took place at UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara between 2013 and 2019. In 22 cases, students with no demonstrated athletic talent were admitted as athletes. They were typically from white, upper-class families.

UC Berkeley’s actions were particularly egregious, according to the report. The audit says 42 applicants with donor connections were chosen over more qualified candidates at UC Berkeley.

Read the audit here