A greater application rate and lower acceptance rate, does not mean that one school has better academics (over all) than another. It just means that more people are applying to SB than Irvine or Davis. A big factor contributing to this is probably not because of the academics (All three UCs are roughly the same) but because of the beach and party scene. Or the fact that there are less Asians/more colleges atmosphere than Irvine or less rural than Davis. I don't think that UCSB will change that much in terms of ranking.