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"California, once a leader in higher education, is falling behind other states and nations in developing the highly skilled workforce necessary for our future prosperity." This finding from a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report advises state leaders to set priorities and fund them accordingly. The CSU couldn't agree more.
The report goes on to say that "Declines in enrollment rates [at public higher education institutions] mean that California's future workforce will be less skilled and less able to meet the demands of an economy that increasingly rewards more highly educated workers." Although more students are qualified for college, state budget cuts have forced colleges and universities to enroll fewer students. According to the PPIC the number of high school graduates entering college over the past three years has dropped 12 percent despite higher demand and more students being college-ready. This translates into a loss of about 12,000 college graduates per year, representing "a significant loss of human capital to California---one that the state can ill afford."
The PPIC also reported in an earlier study that unless enrollment and graduation rates substantially improve, by 2025 the state will fall short of the amount of graduates it needs by about one million individuals to meet economic demand.
This spring, the CSU will graduate almost 100,000 job-ready students. That picture may change dramatically given the continuing drop in state support for CSU. Each of these graduates will enter our workforce with the education and hands-on experience they needed to be contributors to the state's economic well-being. With further budget reductions on the table, however, we are in danger of graduating fewer students. As reported by the PPIC, the state spent $1.6 billion less on higher education than it did ten years ago even as demand for college graduates has increased.
The state and legislature need to re-prioritize higher education as a necessity for California's ongoing and future prosperity.
The legislature has until June 15 to write a final budget. Tell your local representatives that the state must prioritize higher education and that they should reject any cuts to the CSU budget. Making your voice heard is critical for the state's decision makers to commit to improving higher education.
For more information and a copy of the full study visit the PPIC's website.(1)
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