“It’s a really dramatic shift to what was once one of the most progressive higher-education systems in the world,” said John Aubrey Douglass, a higher-education expert at UC Berkeley. “It takes a long time to build these institutions, but they can be ripped apart very quickly, and then it’s really hard for them to recover.”

The UC system, which has about 220,000 students, is raising student fees by 9 percent, reducing freshman enrollment by 6 percent, and cutting at least $300 million from the budgets of its 10 campuses.

UC also is forcing most of its 180,000 employees to take furloughs and pay cuts of up to 10 percent, which officials say will make it harder to stop competing universities from poaching academic stars.

Mark Krumholz, a leading astronomer at UC Santa Cruz, recently co-wrote a letter, signed by more than 300 top UC scientists, warning state lawmakers that budget cuts could damage the future of science and technology in California.

“I don’t want to leave, but I don’t want to be the last man on a sinking ship,” said Krumholz, who wondered whether he should accept a higher-paying job at another university.

CSU, the nation’s largest four-year university system with 450,000 students, plans to cut enrollment by 40,000 over the next two years. Nearly all 47,000 employees have agreed to take furloughs of two days per month, and fees for in-state undergraduates will rise 32 percent to $4,827 a year.

CSU officials say the fees are relatively low and the increase will be offset by expanded financial aid, but advocates say many low-income students might be unable to attend.

“The fee increase is going to be tough for me and other students, because it’s hard for students to get jobs,” said Chris Morales, a junior at CSU San Marcos who is the first in his family to attend college. “My mother doesn’t make enough money to pay for my college education. She has three other children.”

California’s community colleges will receive nearly 6 percent less state funding than last year, even as campuses struggle to accommodate a surge of military veterans and newly unemployed workers seeking training for new jobs.

The state’s two-year colleges are raising their fees by 30 percent, shrinking teaching staffs, and reducing class schedules.

The Los Angeles Community College District canceled summer sessions at its nine campuses, and the San Diego Community College District cut about 800 of its 10,000 classes last year.

Scott Lay, president of the Community College League of California, said he expects the community college system to enroll 250,000 fewer students this year. The system had about 2.7 million students last year,

“There are more Californians that need community college than ever, and we’re not going to be able to meet that need,” Lay said.

Links:

California State University system

University of California system

American Council on Education

Public Policy Institute of California

National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

Community College League of California


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