Friday, February 18, 2011

Mission of California Universities

In January, San Francisco Chronicle reported Cuts Could Shut Out Thousands of Students:
At UC and CSU, a $1 billion reduction would bring the universities back to about the same level of state funding each received in 1999: nearly $2.6 billion for UC, and about $2.3 billion for CSU.

But both systems educate tens of thousands more students today than they did a dozen years ago.

CSU, for example, enrolls 70,000 more students today than in 1999, Reed said. Yet budget cuts have forced its 23 campuses to turn away 40,000 students over the last two years.

The universities were spared cuts in the current budget approved in October, so CSU has been adding students for spring 2011. But it's proved a short-lived reprieve from the cuts.

"We will not be able to admit as many students as we had been planning for this fall," Reed said.

On 15 February, SF Chronicle reported again, in Spending-cut scenario for California presented that
The $13.5 billion in cuts consists largely of a $5.2 billion reduction in K-12 public school and community college programs, a more than $2 billion cut in funding for the UC and CSU systems and a $2.6 billion reduction in spending on public safety and the courts.

Specific actions in education include eliminating kindergarten through third grade class-size limits, raising the minimum age for kindergarten beginning this year, shortening the school year and eliminating state funding for transporting students to school.

For higher education, the analyst pointed to options such as increasing tuition an additional 7 percent for UC students and 10 percent for CSU students, along with reducing state contributions for research activities and reducing enrollment in the CSU system by 5 percent.

The state's public safety system could be reduced by eliminating various grants, rejecting proposed changes to the prison system, delaying court construction projects and shifting responsibility for parole services to local governments.

Leno said the analysis confirms that funding for education and public safety - which largely were spared in Brown's budget proposal that counts on the tax extensions and increases - would probably be primary sources for additional cuts.
Heart breaking scenarios and stories indeed.  However, the phrase "turning away students" really made me think and eventually get impatient with the entitlement Californians are enjoying or abusing.  Growing up in highly competitive China, applying students being turned away was nothing but norm.  I am not saying that is correct, rather, I'm tying to say that to receive a great education is not a right but a privilege and the society needs to pay for that collectively, and individuals need to strive to be the best.

I am fed up with stories that in American colleges, even elite ones, students had to take extra courses to make up for their insufficient high school educations, and universities spent valuable resources to teach them high school classes.  That must change.

In 2003, an article reported in San Francisco Chronicle stated that Deficit imperils UC's mandate / New president may have to put a cap on enrollments.  According to the article,
State policy for colleges and universities is laid out in the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education, which pledges UC to admit all those from the top eighth, or 12.5 percent, of the state's graduating high school seniors who want admission. UC also promises seats to the top 4 percent of each high school, and is committed to large numbers of graduate and transfer students as well.
As many have argued that this policy has propelled California to the forefront of the technology renovations and indeed it is sad to change this noble policy.  However, facing insufficient funding, trying to stick to such policy is foolhardy, particularly in the era of globalization and many more competent students from all over the world want to be educated in University of California.

As a matter of fact, many students from highly competitive regions, such as Taiwan, Japan, China, come to the US for high school and college education, so as to avoid competition back home.  That speaks volume.  Insisting on admitting all 12.5% of the state's graduating high school seniors giving them a sense of entitlement which would not fly in current fiscal environment and would not work in the age of global village.

Perhaps, American students can learn from those brave foreigners and go can also go to Mexico, Brazil, India, China, etc. for quality and cheaper educations as well.

It's high time for the Americans to face up realities.

Matthew Felix Sun's Drawing_7254

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