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The University of California, Berkeley has appealed to the California Supreme Court a lower court ruling that freezes enrollment at the same level as the 2020-21 school year.
University officials said a Feb. 10 ruling by the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal harms prospective students and prevents the school from meeting state enrollment targets. Officials said the university had planned on an enrollment increase of 3,050 students beyond the 42,347 enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year.
According to the university statement about the ruling, “If left intact, the court’s unprecedented decision would have a devastating impact on prospective students, university admissions, campus operations, and UC Berkeley’s ability to serve California students by meeting the enrollment targets set by the State of California.”
Any reductions in the number of new students admitted would need to come from undergraduates, university officials said, as admissions notices to graduate students have already gone out for the 2022-23 school year.
The Feb. 10 decision upheld a ruling in August in Alameda County Superior Court, where Judge Brad Seligman found that rising enrollment has affected neighboring housing, causing displacement and creating unacceptable noise, the group Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods said in August.
Seligman also found the university failed at reviewing a reduction in enrollment to improve the surrounding neighborhoods.
“The judge has vindicated our efforts to hold UC Berkeley accountable for the severe impacts on our community from its massive enrollment increases which they made without public notice or comments,” said Phil Bokovoy, president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, in August.
Between 2010 and 2020, UC Berkeley enrollment has increased by about 18 percent or about 6,500 to 42,327 students.
“We firmly believe that UC should not increase enrollment until it creates housing for its new students,” Bokovoy added.
At the time of Seligman’s ruling, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said, “We are confident that the court will ultimately permit us to proceed with the (project),” referring to the school’s Upper Hearst development that would provide additional academic study space and housing for students and faculty at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the northeast edge of the campus.
The Hearst project is contingent on projected enrollment numbers, which the university would have to prove can be accommodated without adversely impacting the neighboring community.