Report on Higher Education Calls for Massive Change in State's Master Plan

The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, has released its report on higher education and calls on the governor and state legislature to alter its Master Plan for Higher Education in order to prepare for the state's future needs.

According to the report, California will need 2.3 million more graduates with a degree or certificate in a field by 2025, of which at least a million need to be baccalaureate degrees. What this translates into is a massive 40% increase in graduate output amongst the state's public and private colleges.

"California’s leaders must start the discussion about how to change the system to meet the state’s current and future civic and workforce needs with the finite financial resources it has," said Jonathan Shapiro, Chairman of the Commission, in a letter to the governor and state legislature. "This will require shifting the discussion from what it costs an institution to educate each student each year to what it costs to produce a degree. California must be able to answer whether is it getting what it needs for what it is spending on higher education."

One of the report's largest criticism is against the triad of California's public higher education system—the community colleges, the California State University (CSU) system, and the University of California (UC) system—and its ultimate failure at creating a larger online teaching presence. This triad accounts for 85% of all California students enrolled in higher education.

Noting private institutions like Stanford and Harvard, the report says these institutions have "aggressively experimented with online options" while California "once the innovator, has become a reluctant follower."

The CSU responded promptly, both acknowledging its faults while also highlighting some of their advancements forward with online education. Additionally, particularly within the CSU and community colleges, insufficient classes and overpopulated courses have led to lower completion rates.

"We appreciate Little Hoover Commission’s work and the involvement of the California State University throughout the process of compiling a very thoughtful report on the future of the state’s public higher education systems," said Ephraim P. Smith, California State University Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer. "The CSU is engaged in a number of initiatives that strive to increase efficient and effective service to students."

The lengthy report provides ten specific recommendations, largely aimed at the governor and state legislature, which seek to alter incentives, funding, transparency, oversight, and overall higher education structure.

"We are reviewing Commission’s findings and recommendations, and anticipate continued collaboration with the other higher education systems to meet workforce demands for degreed professionals across all industry sectors," continued Smith. "We also anticipate being active participants in discussions with the Governor, Legislature and the state’s other publicly funded higher education institutions regarding the future of higher education."

Read the full report below.

The Little Hoover Commission Report on Higher Education, October 2013

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