Report Reveals Increasing Diversity of Students at U. of California

October 11, 2007

On all but two of the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses, a majority of students either are foreign-born or have at least one nonnative parent, according to a new report from the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the university’s Berkeley campus.

The report, “A New Generation: Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, Immigration, and the Undergraduate Experience at the University of California,” is based on a survey of students’ academic and civic engagement, and reveals the increasing ethnic and racial diversity in one of the nation’s most prominent university systems, where Chinese students now represent the second-largest racial group.

The findings also show the socioeconomic diversity among students, with 24 percent of students reporting an annual family income of less than $35,000, and 36 percent reporting at least $100,000.

First-generation students reported spending more time on academic pursuits than other students did. Immigrant students were more likely than their peers to have declared majors in mathematics and the biological sciences, according to the report.

In other findings, students from disadvantaged backgrounds tended to rank higher on indicators of academic engagement than their more affluent peers. The latter group tended to emphasize friendship and fun in college, while lower-income students tended to focus on “intrinsic goals,” as well as on goals relating to academics and careers. —Eric Hoover