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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Public higher education anticipates higher yearly enrollment

While students were busy protesting fee hikes, the California Postsecondary Education Commission was busy conferring about another area of discussion – demands of public colleges’ future enrollment.

Last week, CPEC held a two-day meeting entitled “Ready or Not, Here They Come” to discuss projections of increasing numbers of students entering California’s higher education systems. By 2019, the commission estimates almost 400,000 additional students will be vying for spots at UCs, CSUs and community colleges.

“The systems are saying there should be more funding for higher education,” said CPEC Assistant Director Adrian Griffin. “[But] the bottom line is the state doesn’t have the money. Higher education is competing with many other state issues.”

The consequences of low funds could include turning away over 200,000 students through 2019.

As increased interest in higher education has already shown, there is a “cascade effect,” Griffin said. Students who were interested in UCs instead turn to CSUs and community colleges, putting more enrollment pressure on those systems.

Officials such as Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) attended the meeting. Discussions included ethnicity and eligibility breakdowns of future students, such as more Latino students applying to these systems than before. Also, a figure showed physical capacity pressures at all campuses. Within the UC system, UC Merced is the only campus that can accommodate an increase of students.

The commission also examined factors that push more students toward higher education. The study included trends of college-going rates of high school graduates, community college transfer rates and graduation rates of students at UCs, CSUs and CCs.

Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lora Jo Bossio, who is in charge of all enrollment management units at UC Davis, weighed in on the impact more students at UCD would have. She said the CPEC figures must be analyzed campus by campus, and UC eligibility must be a factor. With a more detailed break down, the numbers will become more manageable.

“More students are college-bound,” Bossio said, who oversees Student Affairs units such as housing, financial aid and admission. “A campus would be given plenty of time to figure out the numbers. We want to be prepared and ready.”

Bossio recalled the class of 2010’s over-enrollment and the impact the larger student body had on the campus. She said the university can apply lessons from that experience to the prospect of more students in the coming years.

“We adjusted for that class and there were a lot of repercussions, such as in student housing,” Bossio said. “But we learned from it and we did our best to adjust so that the student experience wasn’t diminished in any way.”

SASHA LEKACH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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