Toward a State of Learning: California Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century

Publication Date: March 1999

Publisher: Center for Governmental Studies


Research Area: Misc.

Keywords: Higher Education

Type: Report

Coverage: California


Forty years ago, Californians sought to transform the dream of a college education into a reality available to every citizen. Guided by the state's famous Master Plan for Higher Education, Californians committed themselves to developing the most affordable, accessible, diverse and highly respected system of higher education in the United States. Today the state's universities and colleges, both public and private, are one of California's greatest resources, essential to continued economic strength, social progress, and individual opportunity.

Yet, despite recent increases in state funding, California's system of higher education stands on the verge of crisis. A "tidal wave" of new students, 500,000 more than are enrolled today, will seek admission to the state's colleges and universities by the year 2010. Apart from hopes that good financial times will continue throughout "Tidal Wave II," the state has no plan to accommodate or pay for this wave of new students. Without a realistic plan that will work in good and bad financial times, California will not be able to preserve the promise of higher education to all who qualify. The state will have to limit access to college, reduce the quality of institutions, and raise student charges beyond the means of many Californians.

After two years of intensive study, the Commission strongly and unanimously recommends that California make major changes to improve its policies for higher education and adopt a comprehensive plan to ensure enrollment space for new students, while maintaining the highest levels of quality throughout the system. Above all, the Commission believes that California must make a long-term commitment to become a state of learning, where access, quality, affordability, diversity, innovation and cooperation will be the hallmarks of higher education.