Image: falseStatement: “Their acceptance rate was as low as Harvard and Yale this year,” former President Bill Clinton said about UC San Diego during a June 5 interview with CNBC.

Determination: False

Analysis: Clinton gathered global leaders and thinkers at a conference in Chicago earlier this month to address some of the world’s biggest challenges: poverty, environment, education and health care.

The speakers included San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who discussed the city’s growth in biotechnology and clean technology. In an interview with CNBC about the event, Clinton said Sanders, a Republican, had successfully worked alongside Democrats here to nurture small businesses.

“What’s working in America are these cooperative clusters like we were talking about San Diego,” Clinton said, according to a transcript posted online. “San Diego has become the human genome research capital of America.”

Clinton backed up the notoriety by listing prominent science centers, such as the J. Craig Venter Institute and Qualcomm. He also described the amount of interest in attending UC San Diego as akin to Ivy League schools.

“There were 66,000 applications for the freshmen class at the University of California, San Diego. Their acceptance rate was as low as Harvard and Yale this year,” he said.

But that’s not true, according to a survey of college admissions by The New York Times. Harvard and Yale accepted about 6 percent and 7 percent of applicants this year. UCSD accepted nearly 38 percent.

We tried reaching Clinton for comment through conference organizers, but a representative did not respond before our deadline.

However, UC San Diego spokesman Jeff Gattas provided some insight into why the mistake might’ve happened. Clinton could’ve mixed up the university’s acceptance rate (the number of applicants who get in) with its enrollment rate (the number of approved applicants who actually enroll in classes).

Most people accepted to UC San Diego decide not to enroll. They might end up choosing another school or none at all. That’s different than Harvard and Yale, where most decide to enroll after their acceptance. UC San Diego isn’t as selective as those Ivy League schools, which is what Clinton suggested.

UC San Diego’s freshman enrollment rate is much closer to Harvard and Yale, however. Last fall, UC San Diego enrolled about 6 percent of applicants. The other schools enrolled about 5 percent, according to statistics from the Times and The Princeton Review.

The mix-up could explain why Clinton described acceptance rates as equal among UC San Diego, Harvard and Yale, but it doesn’t change the inaccuracy of the comparison or our rating. The statement was False.

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Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He writes about local government, creates infographics and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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