Office of Planning and Budgeting

Berkeley Report Provides Roadmap for ‘Smart Growth’ in Higher Ed

John Aubrey Douglass of UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education has issued a new report on the current status of higher education, and potential paths for growth and change into the future.

In Re-Imagining California Higher Education, Douglass argues that the existing model for higher education in California (here representative of higher education in states across the US) has changed only incrementally over recent decades and is ill suited, due primarily to the combination of declining per student funding and increased enrollment, to meet the near-term demands of the economy, much less US stated goals of dramatically increased participation and attainment for the future.

Douglass proposes that California boldy reimagine its higher education system by building on the existing strengths of its current tripartite system (two year community colleges, the four-year California State system, and the four-year UC research institutions). Among his proposals:

  • An expanded community college sector that includes a set of institutions offering four year degrees and a set of institutions with a more explicit ‘transfer focus’.
  • A new poli-technic institution sector that focuses on applied degrees in science, engineering and technology.
  • A new online ‘open university’ that focuses on adult and/or placebound learners in California.
  • Increased focus on international recruitment to attract funding dollars and top talent to the state.
  • Increased focus on partnering with the federal government in funding institutions beyond basic research and financial aid to students.

With arguably the best– and certainly the largest– public higher education system in the country, if not world, the old saying ‘So goes California, so goes the nation’ comes to mind while reading Douglass’ report.

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