Report knocks CSU graduation rates

California’s economy could suffer if higher education resources cannot be expanded to serve a growing population, according to a state report issued on Monday.

The report, ‘A New Plan for a New Economy: Reimagining Higher Education’ issued by the Little Hoover Commission, claimed that the state‘s university systems lack the enrollment and graduation rates to maintain the state’s growing economy.

The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, investigates the actions of the state government and offers reports, recommendations and legislative proposals to promote efficiency, economy and improve services.

The recommendations in the report allude to initiatives that the California State University system has already begun or has been involved in for some time, Uhlenkamp said.

“Anytime a report like this is issued, a dialogue opens up,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the CSU.

The CSU is currently working with other state university systems to meet future workforce demands, as well as discussing the future of higher education with the state legislature and government, Uhlenkamp said.

The report cites a variety of reasons, including less state funding and increased tuition fees, as reasons for the decline of higher education in California. However, it attributes these ailments to the recession of 2008.

According to the report:

The problems began with state budget cuts to public education that began in 2003. In response to the cuts, tuition costs for both the University of California and the CSU systems increased, causing more students to enroll in community colleges.

Community colleges, which have to keep costs low to promote access, don’t have the resources to provide students with the classes they need.

As a result, community college transfer students are entering four-year universities without being prepared, which has led to delayed graduation.

The lack of qualified graduates will have serious consequences for California as years of graduation rates continue to stagnate. At their current rates, California’s universities will produce 2.3 million fewer graduates than is necessary for the state to function as a “healthy modern economy” in 2025.

One of the commission’s 10 recommendations included the adoption of a comprehensive plan to reduce course bottlenecks and make it easier for transfer students to enroll in and graduate from state universities.

Uhlenkamp said the CSU is already working on the problems outlined in the report. In 2011, the CSU began working on improving education outcomes through transfer pathways between the CSU and community colleges in order to make it easier for students to transfer to a four-year institution.

“We have had a number of dialogues with other systems and the governor and legislature discussing the future of higher education and whether we are aiming in the right direction,” he said.

Editor’s note: Nicholas Carr also contributed to this article.

 

Nicholas Carr and Aubrey Crosby can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.