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2010 May 17 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Report Says Calif. Colleges Must Open Doors to More

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s public colleges and universities should open their doors to more high school graduates to help meet the state’s need for educated workers, according to a new report.

The study released by the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit think tank, calls for major changes to the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education.

The plan, which has served as a blueprint for California’s three-tiered higher education system for 50 years, makes the top 12.5 percent of the state’s high school graduates eligible to attend the 10-campus University of California system, and the top 33 percent eligible for the 23-campus California State University system.

By 2025, the top 15 percent of high school graduates should be eligible for UC, and the top 40 percent should be eligible for CSU, according to the report.

In addition, both four-year systems should accept more students from California’s 110 community colleges, so that transfer students make up 60 percent of CSU graduates and 40 percent of UC graduates by 2025, the PPIC report said.

The report’s authors also call for boosting graduation rates at the state’s colleges and universities. Currently, only about half of incoming freshmen at CSU complete their degrees in six years.

The recommendations are aimed at meeting the future needs of the state’s increasingly knowledge-based economy. The PPIC projected that California will face a shortage of 1 million educated workers by 2025.

The biggest obstacles to increasing college eligibility and enrollment in California will be money.

The report estimates that by 2025, it would cost an additional $1.6 billion per year, in current dollars, if the state’s colleges and universities implement the study’s recommendations to expand enrollment.

But over the past two years, the state has slashed funding to California’s colleges and universities, prompting UC and CSU to reduce student enrollment, in addition to cutting courses, laying off employees and raising fees.

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