Julie Leopo/EdSource

To make room for 100,000 students who otherwise could get squeezed out of higher education, California’s public colleges and universities need to graduate students faster, operate more on weekends and summers and share facilities and degree programs, according to a new report by the College Futures Foundation.

However, the possibility of building new campuses, currently under consideration by the state, was not included in the report. Instead, it focused on faster and less expensive solutions.

The study projects that 140,000 more high school graduates and community college transfer students over the next decade will be eligible for the University of California and the California State University by passing the right set of courses, even though the overall number of high school graduates is expected to decline.

But the two public university systems are already overcrowded and that will get worse over time, especially in under-served areas in the Inland Empire and Central Valley, where many low-income students may need to attend college close to home, says the study by the Oakland-based philanthropic foundation that promotes greater access to higher education.

“The capacity shortfall has become a crisis. To make the demand more manageable, we need to change the way we serve students. To expand our supply, we need to change the way we use space and resources,” says the report, titled “Making Room for Success: Addressing Capacity Shortfalls at California’s Universities.”

The UC system has nine undergraduate campuses and enrolls about 223,000 undergraduates. While UC does not completely reject any academically eligible students, those applicants denied entrance at the highly competitive campuses are then offered a spot at UC Merced, But less than 1 percent of those accept the UC Merced offer.

The 23-campus CSU, which enrolls 428,000 undergraduates, has many overcrowded programs and denied admission earlier this year to about 30,000 otherwise qualified applicants. This year it started to offer those students seats at other campuses with room. Officials say they still have not tallied how many accepted those opportunities.

The study does not address the Legislature’s recent approval of $4 million to study the possibility of building one or two new CSU campuses in the San Joaquin Valley area (most likely in Stockton), Concord, Chula Vista, Palm Desert or San Mateo County. Instead, College Futures concentrated on short-term and less expensive fixes that can make room for more students on campuses, such as better counseling to help students finish faster, more hybrid programs that combine online and on-campus classes, expanded year-round operations and using available space in community colleges or even high schools to teach bachelor’s degree courses.

“We think before the state goes out and expends resources on land acquisition, construction and all the operating costs associated with that over time, let’s maximize the assets that we currently have. If we did that well, our hypothesis is that it could accommodate and close much of this capacity gap,” Monica Lozano, College Futures president and CEO, told EdSource in an interview.

However, Lozano said the study was not meant to quash the possible construction of new CSU campuses in the long run. She emphasized that the report did not include any analysis about the need for or location of new schools. Rather, it concentrated on “things that are within the capacity of institutions today.”

By 2030, about 140,000 students a year may be eligible for the state’s two public universities yet be turned away because of lack of space, the report estimates. Of those students, about 40,000 recent high school graduates are likely to attend community colleges instead. But that is not ideal since students who start at community colleges have been shown to be less likely to earn bachelor’s degrees than students who start as freshmen at four-year universities, according to the study. And the remaining 100,000 face uncertain education futures, it stresses.

“The state can’t waste that talent,” said Lozano, a former chairwoman of the UC Board of Regents. “This should be a wakeup call.”

Colleges and universities in the Central Valley and Inland Empire face special challenges since those areas “have historically lagged the rest of the state economically, and capacity challenges in higher education put them at risk of falling further behind,” the report says.

In addition, the study urged state and education leaders to look at ways to provide room for an estimated 21,000 more students in graduate and advanced degree programs in health care, technology and other fields.

The research was conducted by McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm, and relied on data from higher education systems and the California Department of Education, among others.

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  1. Muvaffak GOZAYDIN 1 month ago1 month ago

    You can make room for 5 million Californians without spending a dime . 1- Just set up NEW CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY on the table . 2- Order Berkeley plus 10 more UCs, Stanford, Caltech, USC to provide online versions of their f2f degree programs. It will not cost them too much. Only $ 20,000 per online course development. Let them convert 3.000 courses to online courses. Cost is 3.000 x $20,000 = $60,000,000 That is nothing pay them … Read More

    You can make room for 5 million Californians without spending a dime .
    1- Just set up NEW CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY on the table .
    2- Order Berkeley plus 10 more UCs, Stanford, Caltech, USC to provide online versions of their f2f degree programs. It will not cost them too much. Only $ 20,000 per online course development. Let them convert 3.000 courses to online courses. Cost is 3.000 x $20,000 = $60,000,000
    That is nothing pay them when teaching starts.
    3 – A new revolution. Define new degrees. Each is one year long or 10 courses long .
    BA1
    BA2
    BA3
    BA4
    Master
    4 – Bring together best 50 academicians of the USA. Let them select 40 courses for each degree and for each major. Sample: 40 courses for Mechanical Engineering BA3 degree.Students will select 10 courses out of these courses. If he passes all he will get a BA3 degree .
    5 – He will register the courses online. After 2 weeks if he feels he can do the course, pay $100 per course . Or drop the course pay nothing .
    6 – 5 million students can take annually about 4 courses. That makes 20 million online courses per year .
    $100 per course income is $2 billion/year. Pay the instructors first. Then pay universities $1 billion. Simple isn’t it ?
    Everything automatically run by computer system so no administrative personnel needed at all.

  2. Antonio 1 month ago1 month ago

    One way to make more room at the UC system is to push the lower division classes down to the community college system. Let the UC campus teach only upper division and graduate programs. Community colleges have strong requirements for the instructors; the students would not suffer a lesser education.

  3. dina pie 1 month ago1 month ago

    Industries that need to increase output and production without expanding the physical footprint simply add a swing shift. Colleges should do the same. Run a second shift of classes and services. Students that can attend morning and day classes, shift one. Students that can attend night classes, shift two. Expanding means hiring more profs, service people, admins., etc. Instead of spending many millions on new construction, spend it on infrastructure, technology and human resources. Doing … Read More

    Industries that need to increase output and production without expanding the physical footprint simply add a swing shift. Colleges should do the same. Run a second shift of classes and services. Students that can attend morning and day classes, shift one. Students that can attend night classes, shift two. Expanding means hiring more profs, service people, admins., etc. Instead of spending many millions on new construction, spend it on infrastructure, technology and human resources. Doing 2-full time shifts at our colleges would also enable students who do not want to be in extraordinary debt upon graduation an opportunity to earn income should they choose to attend college only at night.

  4. Bo Loney 1 month ago1 month ago

    I think it would be beneficial to a lot of people to start using the technology we are blessed with now and offering online courses. Virtual classes. Maybe set up verified testing centers like Prometric.

  5. Jim 1 month ago1 month ago

    Seems like offering particular concentrations at selected schools would be more efficient. For example by focusing on STEM at CSUN and creating a path from CC/2 year to STEM majors at CSUN you could make the process much more focused on supporting students. By the time they have two years done they should have a major in mind. Trying to have 23 schools all offering a wide gamut of majors does not lead to excellence.

  6. Gregory Lin Lipford 1 month ago1 month ago

    Sigh …a one source story unquestionably pushing findings of a study funded by an admittedly partisan organization.