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Posted at 3:32 PM ET, 01/24/2011

More seats at U-Va. could ease admission woes

By Daniel de Vise

The University of Virginia announced Monday that it had received more applications than ever: 23,942, a 6 percent increase.

But the university is adding freshman seats in the fall, and that means a slightly more favorable admission rate.

The university will enroll an entering class of 3,360, an increase of about 120 students, said Greg Roberts, dean of admission, in a release. That translates to about 200 to 250 more offers of admission.

The public ivy is looking at potentially expanding its student population by about 10 percent overall, or about 1,400 students, over time, President Teresa Sullivan said last week in a meeting with the editorial board of The Washington Post.

Adding seats is one way to appease Virginians -- Northern Virginians in particular -- who resent the ever-longer odds of gaining entry to the state public flagship university. The admission rate for Virginians, once well over half, has declined to about 45 percent in recent years. As far as admissions are concerned, this is not your father's U-Va.

For this, Virginians tend to blame non-Virginians: If U-Va. didn't accept anyone from outside the state, there would, in theory, be space for a couple thousand more Virginians. Up to one-third of each incoming class is non-residents. They are the very essence of diversity and give U-Va. much of its worldliness, Sullivan said.

Admitting more students of every sort would allow the university to accept more residents without admitting fewer non-residents. U-Va. relies on non-residents to effectively subsidize the residents: non-residents pay three times as much.

There is mounting political pressure for U-Va. to open the door to more Virginians, by hook or by crook. There's room on the grounds to grow by a tenth. Hence the proposal.

"There had been a longstanding growth plan, but not quite that much growth," Sullivan said. But she cautioned that it was "facile" to describe the proposal as a response to political pressure. That means too simple. I looked it up.

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By Daniel de Vise  | January 24, 2011; 3:32 PM ET
Categories:  Access, Admissions, Public policy  | Tags:  UVA accepting more students, UVA admissions, UVA applications record, University Virginia admissions  
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I wonder if UVA would accept more VA residents IF they were willing to pay the out of state rate? Regardless of what UVA says about diversity, it is tuition that is at the heart of this problem. Out of staters pay the freight and that is the driver for them accepting so many.

Posted by: Sojouner | January 25, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Well, it comes down to the fact that there are so few spots at elite public and private schools; with few spots at elite private schools, top students clamor for spots at their state schools. A few years back, the Wall Street Journal ran a series of articles investigating private school admissions practices, showing that the rich and connected lock up over half of the spots due to legacies and other considerations. So middle-class unconnected may compete for the remaining 40% of the slots. The author, Daniel Golden, won a Pulitzer Prize for this work and compiled his findings into a book, The Price of Admission.

Posted by: onmark | January 25, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I attended UVa from out of state in the late 1970's. Even then, there were complaints that the University should take more in state students even though the ratio has remained steady. At the time, it seemed everyone I met was a "Nova", a student from Northern Virginia. They all seemed to know each other and at times felt like I was attending some elses class reunion. That's not what college is supposed to be. Secondly, I don't understand how the state legislature can demand anything of UVa when it only gives 5% of UVa's budget. And probably will cut from there. So increasing the number of first year students is a double edged sword. It appeases some Virginians but costs the University even more to admit them.

Posted by: swcasscells | January 26, 2011 7:49 AM | Report abuse

UVa has a responsibility to educate its own state students. Period.

Students from out-of-state can attend their own state universities or, if they have family money, private schools.

UVa tuition is low compared to other state schools, so an increase in tuition could take up the differential left by out-of-state tuition.

Posted by: ChicagoIllinois | January 26, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

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