California's Master Plan for higher education has long provided an aspirational model for advocates of public higher education in other states. The article excerpted below reveals how the forces of globalization and competition have compromised the Master Plan at the expense of the student. If the benefits of higher education are to remain available to all the state's citizens and the state, the three systems of higher education in California will have to lead structural change, especially in reducing per-student operating expenses to increase productivity and improve affordability withour compromising quality.
California dream of free college wilts under fiscal pressure
Michelle Locke, Associate Press, August 18, 2007
It was 1962 at Berkeley and the campus crackled with possibilities for freshman John Garamendi, football player, business major, future lieutenant governor. Annual cost: About $170. In 1985, freshman and budding journalist Jeff Chang strode on to Cal's redwood-shaded acres. Issues of the day were diversity, how to handle it, and apartheid, how to stop it. Average annual cost: About $1,300. California's come a long way from its 1960 goal of free college for all its residents. Technically, in-state students admitted to the prestigious 10-campus system still pay zero tuition. But assorted fees that once were minimal are creeping up, which some consider a costly mistake. “We are making a fundamental policy error, a strategic policy error in allowing the fees to increase,” says Garamendi, who has children in the UC system and now sits on the system's governing Board of Regents in his role as lieutenant governor. California's promise of free public higher education began as a way to deal with Baby Boomers headed for college. Under the state's Master Plan for Higher Education, UC draws from the top 12.5 percent of high school graduates; the 23-campus California State University draws from the top one-third; and everyone with a high school diploma can attend the huge network of community colleges. At the time, it was a revolution; plan architect Clark Kerr made the cover of Time magazine. Read more ...