Gov. Brown reveals academic game plan

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HIGHER EDUCATION:

Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a new budget proposal that will tie funding for higher education to government-set benchmarks.

The budget unveiled April 23 proposes a 10 percent increase in community college transfers and completion rates, including an increase in the number of degrees earned.

“The governor is putting his money where his mouth is by committing the state to predictable and ongoing spending increases for both UC and CSU over the next four years,” said H.D. Palmer, deputy director of external affairs for the California Department of Finance.

The governor’s plan demands a four-year freeze on tuition increases.

If either the California State University or University of California systems were to raise their tuition during the four-year period, they would forgo their funding increase.

Gov. Brown’s plan also mandates average completion rates of four years for universities and two years for community colleges.

Currently, it takes about six years for students to transfer from a community college to a CSU or UC and graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Gov. Brown is tossing in performance standards that will determine how much funding the systems receive.

For this reason, the plan has been opposed by both UC and CSU officials, claiming that the government is setting unrealistic goals that will affect the quality of public higher education.

“But in return we believe we should also be able to make some improvements in key areas,” Palmer said.

For one, university officials are skeptical that the governor’s demands are achievable.

“We believe the goals ought to be thoughtfully developed, based on achievable targets,” said Patrick Lenz, vice president for budget and capital resources for the University of California. He added that benchmarks set in Gov. Brown’s budget were not discussed with university officials before it was proposed.

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Because a quarter of all CSU students are part-time, with about half of the freshmen taking remedial classes, on-time graduation will be hard to accomplish, said Erik Fallis, a CSU spokesperson.

The plan offers some flexibility, providing a percentage of funding if the requirements are partially met. The plan also allows UCs and CSUs to make up lost monies.

But because both government and college officials are continuing to work out the details, the proposal has not been adopted by the state legislature.

“At this point we are hoping for further dialogue with the governor’s office to determine the best way to move forward,” Fallis said.

BROWN BUDGET

  • 20 Percent increase in funds to UCs and CSUs over a four-year period.
  • 13 Percent increase of students expected to graduate in less than four years
  • 4 = Number of years that UC tuition will remain at $13,200 per year.


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