Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation

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Correcting the record for UC Berkeley

This essay asserts that “the University of California, Berkeley, the third-ranked research institution on the planet…is having trouble attracting graduate students.” This is demonstrably untrue.

Mr. Deresiewicz, and The Nation, should not shirk the obligation to substantiate such a sweeping claim. Opinion pieces may be subject to lower standards of fact-checking, but publishing egregious misrepresentation is irresponsible and damaging to the reputations of all involved.

Applications to graduate programs at UC Berkeley have increased 45 percent from 2001 to 2010 (with roughly fourteen applicants for each space available). More than half of all those admitted enroll, despite holding offers from multiple competitor schools, many of them elite private universities. Financial support to these students has not decreased; in fact, our campus’s support of graduate students has been steadily rising, bolstered by philanthropy and robust research funding.

Berkeley’s students continue to be among the most qualified and most promising of any. Our graduate students receive the most prestigious portable fellowships at rates that, in most cases, surpass those at any other university. For example, Berkeley has been the top-choice school for recipients of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships over the past decade.

The University of California—widely considered the best public university system in the world—is adapting to unprecedented state budget cuts. At Berkeley, this means increasing private philanthropy, streamlining administration, and directing maximal resources to our core mission of teaching, research and public service. The most outstanding students (and faculty) continue to choose Berkeley as an unmatched environment for learning and discovery. Our campus attracts a concentration of global talent that tackles the pressing questions of our day in order to offer solutions to the myriad crises our society faces.

Thank you for this opportunity to correct the record.