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Report 90-1 : Higher Education at the Crossroads: Planning for the Twenty-First Century

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

January 1990

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This report is the product of nearly two years of work by the Commission on how the State of California should prepare for enrollment in higher education through the year 2005. The Commission prepared the report in collaboration with an advisory Committee composed of planning and program representatives of the State's system of Higher Education and of the State Department of Finance, the Demographic Research Unit in that Department, and the Analyst's Office.

The six sections of the report cover California's population trends that will influence enrollment demands; the current growth plans of the State's Higher Education Systems for expansion; the capital outlay and operating budget consequences of this planned growth, the Stat's ability to support this growth; and alternatives to growth. The Commission used five fundamental policy assumptions of the recently concluded Master Plan review process as the underpinning for its projections of future enrollment;

  1. Continued differentiation of function and mission among the three public segments.
  2. Continued access to all qualified and motivated students someplace within the public systems of higher education by means of adequate State funding to support needed growth.
  3. Continued accommodation of all qualified applicants at the University of California and the California State University someplace within theses systems, although not always at their campus or program of first choice.
  4. Achievement by the year 2005 of the State's policy goal that undergraduate enrollment at the California State University and the University of California will be 60 percent upper division and 40 percent lower division, by means of increasing their admission of transfer students rather than by reducing access to freshman students.
  5. Attainment of the State's goals of financial aid through increased funding for needy students in community colleges, increased for students in public universities, and increased grants awards for students choosing to attend independent institutions.
Based on these principles, the Commission has concluded that the State should prepare for the net enrollment increases by the year 2005 of close to 700,000 new students. Thus all segments will need to expand existing campuses and plan new ones. Under existing fiscal constraints, however, the operating and capital resources to support growth are not likely to be available. Thus, the Commission recommends against any permanent commitments for expansions until the voters have had an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment loosening the State's current spending limit. If this amendment fails, the policy assumptions underpinning this analysis will have to be rethought.

The Commission also recommends that the process foe growth be orderly, coordinated, and gradual rather than competitive among the systems and that the State ensure that this planning be directed not just toward expansion but toward increased diversity of student enrollment, since the ability of the State to change the patterns of success among historically underrepresented students will fundamentally influence the need for and pace of growth.

With respect to the individual systems of education, the Commission finds that the University of California's projected undergraduate enrollment increase of 36 percent by 2005 justifies immediate preparation for at least one new campus, with plans for possible additional campuses deferred until the State's need for graduate expansion is better defined. For the California State University, the Commission concludes that overall student demand will increase by between 34 and 41 percent, which will require expansion at existing campuses as well as building new facilities; and the Commission has requested more facts about the State University's regional priorities for expansion in order to develop an analytic basis for identifying these needed facilities. For that California Community Colleges, the Commission envisions increased enrollment demand of approximately 40 percent, and it has requested more information about regional priorities before specifying how these enrollments should be accommodated in existing or new facilities.

The Commission will refine this analysis often in the next several years, first in the summer of 1990 once the results of the June election are known and following further analyses by the segments, and again when data from the 1990 census are available.

The Commission adopted this report at its meeting on January 22, 1990.

Related Topics: Enrollment Demand and Capacity Analysis

Further information may be obtained from the Commission's Research Staff
(916) 445-1000 or via e-mail at

A copy of any publication may be requested from the Commission's Publications Unit
(916) 445-1000 or via e-mail at

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