The university had to apologize to 60 waitlisted applicants last week after mistakenly sending the Fall 2010 hopefuls congratulatory letters intended for admitted students.

The applicants, who are part of UCSB’s first-ever waitlist, received the incorrect news that they were admitted to this fall’s freshman class due to a staff error. UCSB Admissions Director Christine Van Gieson said the office immediately took responsibility for the error, sending apologies to both the applicants and their families.

“When I was aware of what had happened,” she said, “I immediately sent out an apology email as well as a hard copy letter to the parents the following day.”

The students will not be offered automatic admission because of the mistake, Van Gieson said. She noted nine recipients of the letter have contacted the admissions office thus far.

“As a student, you know it is a very emotional time,” she said. “And what happened was bad communication, and we feel terrible.”

A similar error occurred on a much larger scale last spring when UC San Diego incorrectly sent nearly 30,000 high school students acceptance e-mails when the applicants had in fact been rejected.

The mistake at UCSB affected 60 of the 2,400 students still waiting for a final admissions decision from the university.

This year, nearly all UC schools created a waitlist in the hopes of addressing this year’s large applicant pool and problems with over-enrollment, Van Gieson said.

“All of the UCs decided to use a wait list this year except UCLA and UC Merced,” she said. “Last year we enrolled more students than we were anticipating, and this year with 47,000 applicants, we thought the wait list would help.”

According to Van Gieson, the university hopes to enroll fewer students this year in order to compensate for last year’s costly over enrollment.