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University of California system improperly admitted dozens of students, audit finds

Reuters logo Reuters 22/09/2020 By Mimi Dwyer
a large brick church building: A student walks past Royce Hall on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles © Reuters/LUCY NICHOLSON A student walks past Royce Hall on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles

By Mimi Dwyer

(Reuters) - The University of California system unfairly admitted 64 "noncompetitive" students between 2013 and 2019, the California state auditor said in a report released on Tuesday that echoed a 2019 college admissions scandal involving at least eight schools across the country.

The California system admissions process "has not treated applicants fairly or consistently," auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature.

The network of colleges enrolls more than 280,000 students across 10 campuses. The University of California, Berkeley has historically been considered the system's most prestigious, and ranks among the best public universities in the United States.

The audit determined that 22 students had been admitted as student athletes without full qualifications, while another 42 students had been admitted at Berkeley largely because of family connections or donations.

In a statement emailed to Reuters, University of California President Michael V. Drake said he took the auditor's findings "very seriously" and the university would "swiftly address" concerns raised by the report and discipline individuals involved. The system plans to review and act on the findings in the coming weeks, he said.

a group of people walking in front of a building: People walk in front of Royce Hall on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles © Reuters/LUCY NICHOLSON People walk in front of Royce Hall on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles

The audit came in the wake of 2019's college admissions bribery scandal uncovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. More than 50 people were charged in connection with attempts to gain access to elite colleges using bribery, donations, and padded and fabricated credentials. Several students identified in that scandal had doctored athletic qualifications.

The actress Lori Laughlin was sentenced in August to two months in prison and issued $150,000 in fines for her participation in the scheme by helping her two daughters fake qualifications to get into the University of Southern California.

In the California case, the state auditor found that reviewers for the University of California were inconsistent in their judgment of applicants and that oversight of the admissions process needed to be improved.

(Reporting by Mimi Dwyer; Editing by David Gregorio)

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