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UC Berkeley ordered to freeze enrollment at 2020 levels

Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California, Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., April 21, 2017.
Associated Press
Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California, Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., April 21, 2017.

The University of California, Berkeley was ordered by California’s Supreme Court on Thursday to freeze its undergraduate enrollment at 2020-21 levels, meaning it will have to accept at least 3,000 fewer students than planned for the upcoming academic year.

Thursday’s decision is the result of a legal battle with a residents group called Save Berkeley Neighborhoods that sued the university for failing to address the effect of increased student enrollment on housing, homelessness, traffic and noise.

In a statement from the university, officials said they were “extremely disheartened" by the ruling, which leaves intact a lower court's order and rejects the university's request to lift the enrollment cap while it appeals the original lawsuit by the neighborhood group.


“This is devastating news for the thousands of students who have worked so hard and have earned a seat in our fall 2022 class," the university said in the statement. “Our fight on behalf of every one of these students continues."

In August, an Alameda County Superior Court sided with the Berkeley residents, suspending a proposed faculty housing and classroom construction project, and ordered the campus to limit enrollment to its 2020-2021 level of just over 42,000 students.

The school sent letters to applicants saying it would need to cut undergraduate enrollment by at least 3,000 students, sending prospective students and their families into a panic.

An appeals court last month denied UC’s request to lift the enrollment freeze as the case continues. The decision prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to file a friend of the court brief asking the California Supreme Court to block the enrollment cap, saying in a statement that a lawsuit should not “get in the way of the education and dreams of thousands of students who are our future leaders and innovators.”

Freezing enrollment at the 2020-21 level means that the university is capped at a student population of 42,347, and not be able to offer an additional 3,050 seats for incoming first-year students and transfer students as planned for the fall of 2022.


The university has said that it stands to lose at least $57 million in tuition by not admitting the additional students.