ICAS Leg Day - April 2, 2008

(left to right) Mark Wade Lieu, Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Michael T. Brown, Barry Pasternack

(left to right) Mary Croughan, Michael T. Brown, Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Keith R. Williams, Mark Rashid

(left to right) Mark Wade Lieu, Michelle Pilati, Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Jane Patton, Dan Crump

(left to right) Mark Van Selst, Darlene Yee-Melichar, Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Marshelle Thobaben, John Tarjan, Barry Pasternack

Public Higher Education: An Investment in California

(Word Format)
Public Higher Education is the key to building California’s economy and paving the way for recovery from the current financial crises that confront our state and the nation. An investment in the three segments of California Public Higher Education is an investment in the economic health and viability of the State of California.
  • Public Higher Education provides the education and training needed to respond to state employment shortages in nursing, teaching, and firefighters.
  • Public Higher Education provides the research and innovation to stay competitive in a global economy.
  • An educated society is a healthier society.
  • Public Higher Education provides an excellent return on investment. In a study conducted by UC Berkeley professors Henry Brady and Michael Hout and by researcher Jon Stiles, "Return on Investment: Educational Choices and Demographic Change in California's Future," the researchers found that for every additional dollar that the state invests in getting a cohort of 18-year-olds in and through college, it gains an additional net return on that investment of $3 - an amount that, over the lifetime of a cohort of 18-year-olds, translates into a windfall of $3 billion to the state in additional net tax revenue. A similar study by the CSU showed that the state could expect a return of $4.41 in additional tax revenue for each dollar it invests in a CSU student’s education.
  • According to the U.C. Berkeley study, the state can expect to lose $1.5 billion in lost tax receipts and in the cost of providing services to the poor and paying for incarceration. One in 10 adults with a high school diploma lives in poverty compared to one in 20 with a bachelor's degree. A Californian whose education stops at a high school diploma is nearly nine times more likely to spend time in jail than a Californian with a college degree.
  • This last fact is particularly pertinent given the changing demographics in the State of California. In the Policy Evaluation and Research Center report, “America’s Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation’s Future,” the authors point to the confluence of events that require an immediate response: divergent skill distributions among ethnic populations, increasing skill demands in the new economy, and changing demographics. Public Higher Education is uniquely positioned to address this confluence of events.

The Impact of the Proposed 2008-2009 Budget

For the community colleges, the impact of unfunded growth directly affects students and their ability to complete their educational goals. Community colleges are on track to grow 3%, and limiting growth to 1% means that the districts will be left without the necessary resources to provide classes for more than 50,000 students. These students will be left with few options for acquiring good paying jobs needed to strengthen the California economy. Furthermore, the lack of COLA in the 2008-2009 budget results in an actual reduction of purchasing power in spite of a small increase in overall funding.

For the California State University, reduced funding has the potential to delay graduation of students already enrolled and to delay admission for transfer students. In particular, a funding reduction would almost certainly result in a decrease in course offerings causing some students to not get admitted into courses they need to graduate. Additionally, some campuses may close admission to transfer students during the spring semester. CSU is already educating approximately 10,000 students without receiving commensurate state funding. It simply does not have the resources to absorb further cuts in its budget without severely impacting its mission. The budget cut proposed by the Governor will result in the dream of a college education denied or deferred for thousands of California’s citizens.

For the University of California, the reduction in funding will result in a further increase in student fees, adding to the already significant burden of students enrolled in the system. For 2008-2009, the University of California faces the prospect of significant and prohibitive fee increases. In addition, the system is currently over-enrolled by 3,600 students, but the system is loathe to reduce enrollments given the largest high school graduating class in the state’s history.

California Public Higher Education

The California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California play a vital role in responding to the state’s need for preparing a more educated and trained workforce. According to a recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California – California 2025 – by the year 2020, two of every five jobs will require a college degree, an increase from less than one-third of all jobs in 2005. In absolute terms, the total number of jobs requiring a college education is expected to increase by 4.5 million by 2020.

California’s Community Colleges are the world’s largest system of higher education consisting of 109 colleges that educate more than 2.5 million students each year. The colleges serve 73 percent of all students enrolled in higher education. Two-thirds of all CSU graduates and one-third of UC graduates begin their college years at community colleges before transferring.

The California State University graduates 90,000 students into the state’s tax-paying workforce each year. California industries which rely on CSU graduates for their workforce include nursing, business, agriculture, life sciences, education, public administration and criminal justice.

The University of California serves over 190,000 students annually, and its global reputation in research and innovation reflects its primary role in making California one of the leading economies in the world. Graduate students are vital to UC's knowledge production and knowledge transmission enterprise and undergraduates can become knowledge leaders through cutting edge research experience and instruction poised at the frontiers of science and innovation.

While we understand the enormity of the current budget crisis and understand that public higher education will be required to absorb some level of budget cuts in 2008-2009, it is our responsibility to explain the real impact of these proposed cuts on our students and on our ability to deliver education and training for the State of California.

Mark Wade Lieu
ICAS Chair
President, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
428 J Street, Suite 430
Sacramento, CA 95814

Barry Pasternack
Chair, California State University Academic Senate
CSU Office of the Chancellor
401 Golden Shore, Suite 139
Long Beach, CA 90802

Michael T. Brown
Chair, University of California Academic Senate
UC Office of the President
1111 Franklin Street, 12th Fl.
Oakland, CA 94607