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Press Release

Skyrocketing Public College Enrollment Demand Projected for California

Public Information
California Postsecondary Education Commission
1303 J Street, Suite 500
Sacramento, California 95814-2938

Growth in California's public college and university enrollment demand will continue to increase significantly for the next decade, according to projections released today by the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC).

The Commission's new college enrollment demand estimates for the first decade of the next millennium reveal that an unprecedented 714,000 additional students, over and above the Fall 1998 enrollment, are expected at the doors of California's public colleges and universities by 2010.

The Commission's updated enrollment projections will serve as a vital part of the foundation upon which California makes policy decisions for investments in public college facilities, programs, financial aid, human resources, and fee structures, according to Warren H. Fox, the Commission's Executive Director. He said the new projections are being developed as part of a comprehensive higher education planning report to be released later this year on how California higher education can meet the "Tidal Wave II" of increased enrollment demand.

"This will be the largest number of students, anywhere, at any time, in any state, seeking public college enrollment," Fox said.

He said such a rapid increase presents a huge challenge for not only the policy makers and educators who must determine how to accommodate the additional students but, more important, for the hundreds of thousands of students who are or will be preparing for college. Fox maintained that the inextricable relationship between an educated population and economic progress has been recognized for some time, but that more students than ever are now realizing that higher education is also the critical link to personal satisfaction and financial prosperity.

To accommodate the additional students, Fox stated that California's colleges and universities would need increased support and resources, but stressed that it is unlikely the State can afford to meet such a surge in enrollment demand through the traditional means of building new campuses.

Fox said that, while some new public campuses may need to be built, colleges and universities will need to operate more efficiently, effectively, and collaboratively in order to deliver on California's historic promise of widespread access to higher education. He cited a variety of alternate strategies such as expanding existing facilities, more use of educational technology like distance learning, and moving to more year-round college operations for high-impact programs.

He cited the following highlights of the Commission's findings:

-Total enrollment at the California public colleges and universities is expected to swell from 1,998,000 students in 1998 to some 2,700,000 students by the year 2010, a 36 percent increase;

-Enrollment at California Community Colleges is expected to grow nearly 36 percent, go up some 37 percent at California State University, and show an increase of over 32 percent at University of California; and

-Approximately 72 percent of the new student enrollment demand (516,801) is due entirely to population growth.

These projections do not include the number of students who may attend California's independent colleges and universities, such as Stanford University, Mills College, the University of Southern California, and Westmont College. However, on the basis of some preliminary analysis done by the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, the independent sector has the capacity to grow by about 35,300 students by 2010.

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