Office of Planning and Budgeting

We’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front lately. Mainly due to our focus on redesigning the OPB website, which has just gone live!

In particular, we have:

  • Created a new office directory that allows the user to search for staff by content area.
  • Created multiple ways to identify or locate the content you are searching for, including OPB department homepages, quicklinks for popular destinations, topical top-bar navigation that seeks to direct users to popular content even if they are not familiar with UW/OPB terminology or departmental divides, and a search button specifically for OPB content.
  • Added a homepage SlideDeck feature that highlights more recent content in a user friendly way.
  • Created an automated blog feed on the homepage!

While the website will be a work in progress, we hope it represents a major step forward in terms of the user experience. Look out in the coming months for a great interactive data portal, as well as new interfaces for the BillTracker and for accessing current and historic tuition and fee rates.

Many thanks are owed to Creative Communications for their amazing work with us throughout this project! Their creativity and professionalism (not to mention patience with those of us who knew far too little about all things technical) has been invaluable. We look forward to continuing to work with them as we continue to build out the site!

Please contact us with any feedback, questions, or problems regarding this new website!

The Governor’s budget office released the first supplemental budget proposal today, further reducing state expenditures for the 2011-13 biennium by $1.7 billion. All told, higher education institutions would absorb about nine percent of the total cut.

Under the Governor’s proposal, each of the state’s six baccalaureate institutions  would receive 16-17 percent cuts in state funding for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13), while community and technical colleges would receive a 13 percent cut.

Funding cuts are once again disproportionately concentrated at four-year institutions even though the Governor discussed making equal across-the-board cuts as recently as October, because, as noted by budget staff, four-year institutions have a greater ability to   generate tuition revenue than community colleges.

Note that the Governor’s budget eliminates funding for the state’s Work Study program next academic year but importantly, preserves funding for the State Need Grant program.

For more information about budget increases for the College of Engineering, aerospace innovation funding, and financial aid impacts, please review our Planning & Budgeting brief.

A new telephone survey, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, suggests that although Californians appreciate the quality of their higher education system, they are concerned about the direction in which it is headed. In fact, only 28 percent of Californians think that the system is headed in the right direction, while 62 percent claim it is headed in the wrong direction. While respondents still believe higher education is integral to future success in the workplace, they are worried that affording higher education is becoming increasingly difficult.

Californians’ main concern for the future of higher education is affordability. 61 percent believe affordability is a big problem. Among parents of college students in California, 77 percent are very concerned about the increasing tuition. Fully 69 percent of Californians do not believe we should increase fees to fund higher education. Furthermore, only half of respondents agree that financial help is available for those who need it, and 75 percent believe that students must borrow too much for college.

Respondents mainly blame California’s government for the declining affordability of higher education. Only 29 percent think Governor Jerry Brown is handling higher education well, and only 14 percent think the legislature is doing a good job. 74 percent say the state does not fund higher education adequately. This assertion breaches the ideological divide, with 58 percent of Republicans agreeing that more funding is needed. However, respondents are split on their willingness to pay higher taxes to support higher education (52 percent unwilling, 45 percent willing).

To read more about the survey, check out the full report here.

Released this morning, the November state revenue forecast indicates that the state is short another $122 million below needed revenue for the current biennium. Dr. Arun Raha, Executive Director of the Economic Revenue and Forecast Council, wrote that uncertainty over Southern Europe’s debt crisis and potential political gridlock in Washington, D.C., produced largely expected economic results predicted in September’s dismal forecast. In essence, we still have a $2 billion budget problem and since September, it has grown by $122 million.

The Governor will use this forecast as her benchmark for budget reductions in the 2012 Supplemental budget (first supplemental budget of the 2011-13 biennium). All told, the Governor will need to cut over $2 billion from the current biennial budget in order to produce a balanced budget, which she is required to do before proposing any revenue increases to offset reductions.

This budget will be released this Monday, November 21. We will release a budget brief and blog detailing the impact of the Governor’s budget on the UW as soon as possible. While the Governor’s budget release is a critical first step of the special and regular legislative sessions, we are months away from a final legislative budget.

A new report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce finds that higher education is becoming increasingly integral to earning a middle class wage. The Center predicts that, in 2018, while there will still be jobs for high school dropouts and workers with only a high school degree, good jobs for these candidates will be scarce and an associate’s degree, and for many, a bachelor’s degree will be necessary.

The report seeks to paint a picture of the likely employment landscape in 2018, including those job fields (or “clusters”) that are expected to be growing and pay higher wages. It further analyzes what educational qualifications jobs in that cluster will require, finding that upward mobility for workers without higher education will be difficult to achieve—most workers do not stay in the same job for very long and most higher-paying jobs require more education, not simply more experience. Other key findings include:

  • In 2018, 37 percent of jobs are expected to require a high school diploma or less. Of these jobs, however, only one third will pay over $35,000 a year (defined here as the Minimum Earnings Threshold necessary to enter the middle class) and will be concentrated in the areas of Transportation, Distribution and Logistics, Architecture and Construction, and Manufacturing. The higher paying clusters are also heavily male-dominated, making higher education even more determinant for women seeking higher paying employment.
  • Completing any degree significantly improves a worker’s job prospects and earnings. 54 percent of workers with an A.A .degree earn more than $35,000 a year, as do 69 percent of workers with B.A.s and 80 percent of workers with M.A.s.
  • Health Sciences, Information Technology, Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security are career clusters defined by this report as High Wage, High Demand, and High Skill. This means that wages are higher than the average wage, employment is growing quickly (more than 10 percent expected between 2008 and 2018), and most workers in these industries hold a postsecondary degree.

To read more about the report, refer to the Executive Summary or the Full Report. Also see the Chronicle of Higher Education’s article on the topic.

As we continue to experience a very slow recovery from a deep recession, the ideas of long-time critics of modern, inclusive American higher education who question the value of college for many have gained traction and blossomed into widespread public speculation about whether undergraduate education might be the next economic bubble to threaten the US economy. We explore this topic in the latest OPB brief and hold that, in the context of data, the ‘bubble’ metaphor, though effective at capturing public attention in an economic climate characterized by fear and uncertainty, is ultimately inaccurate, misleading, and harmful.

We would love to hear your feedback on this topic!