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The University of California’s record-shattering applications for fall 2021 show remarkable surges in Black, Latino and other underrepresented students seeking admission, putting the system within reach of dismantling long-standing admission barriers and building a student body that reflects the state’s diversity.

UCLA and UC Berkeley, the system’s two most selective campuses — where diversity particularly tumbled after affirmative action was banned in public schools more than two decades ago — achieved historic gains, according to preliminary UC data released Thursday. Black freshman applicants rose by about 48% at both campuses, and Latino applicants increased by 33% at UCLA and 36% at Berkeley.

Overall, UC’s nine undergraduate campuses drew a record number of applicants despite myriad pandemic challenges, totaling 249,855, a 16.1% leap over last year. Among Californians, Black freshman applicants increased by 21.8%. Latinos — who have made up the largest proportion of in-state students seeking freshman seats since 2013 — rose by 12.2%. Asian Americans increased by 10.7%, whites by 18.8%, Pacific Islanders by 23.9% and American Indians by 5.5%.

“These are phenomenal numbers and speak to the ability of UC to attract students from across the state and country at a time of incredible turbulence,” said Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, which represents more than 1,700 colleges and universities. “The university has sought a more representative class for a long time and now it’s within reach.”

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