October 18, 1999
UC works to meet challenge of 'Tidal Wave II'
By Brad Hayward
UC Office of the President
Facing dramatic enrollment growth over the next decade, the University of California
is working aggressively to design ways of accommodating approximately 40 percent
more students while preserving quality instructional and research programs, UC officials
told the Board of Regents at its October 14 meeting.
The university is pursuing a range of strategies for expanding capacity to meet enrollment
demand, with a focus on creative solutions tailored to the needs of individual campuses
and their surrounding communities.
"The university is committed to accommodating the students who are headed our
way," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "We absolutely must keep our
promise of access to California's students, and we will do so in ways that maximize
efficiency while preserving quality.
"The challenge of enrollment growth presents the university with a tremendous
opportunity--an opportunity to serve the educational needs of a growing and diverse
population, and thus to expand the university's contributions to the economic and
societal well-being of California as a whole," Atkinson said.
The California Postsecondary Education Commission recently reported that between
now and 2010, California's public institutions of higher education can expect enrollments
to rise by more than 700,000 students. This enrollment surge, dubbed "Tidal
Wave II" by former UC President Clark Kerr, is attributable to growth in the
college-age population and anticipated increases in college participation rates,
among other factors.
UC fully intends to continue meeting its obligation under the Master Plan for Higher
Education to enroll students from the top 12.5 percent of California's high school
graduating class each year. As a result, the university expects enrollments on its
general campuses to grow by approximately 60,000 full-time-equivalent students to
a level of 210,000 by 2010.
This increase equals the university's total enrollment growth over the last 30 years
and also is equivalent to the existing enrollments of UC Berkeley and UCLA combined.
UC enrollments also grew sharply in the 1960s. However, the growth now facing UC
is expected to last for a longer period of time, and a smaller proportion of the
growth will be absorbed by the development of new campuses. The university plans
to open one new campus, UC Merced, in 2005 and enroll 5,000 students there by 2010.
To accommodate the enrollment growth of the coming years, the university is pursuing
a variety of other solutions, including:
- Expanding instructional activity during the summer. Currently, student fees are
higher for the summer session because it is not state-supported. To help ease the
enrollment crunch, UC will increase instructional offerings in the summer, a step
that will require state funding.
- Enrolling more students at off-campus locations, such as the Education Abroad
Program; the Washington, D.C., center; and new off-campus centers similar to those
now operating in Ventura and Fresno. The university's 2000-01 budget proposal requests
funding for development of another off-campus center in the Santa Clara Valley (read
- Expanding regular enrollments during the fall, winter, and spring quarters, with
sensitivity to the concerns of the campuses' surrounding communities.
- Continuing to improve students' time to graduation. Currently, UC students graduate
in 13 quarters on average. The university will continue working to facilitate students'
ability to earn a diploma in 12 quarters.
Each campus will pursue the strategies that best fit local needs. UC will send
a report to the legislature in April 2000 providing further details about the university's
Atkinson emphasized that meeting the enrollment challenge will not be a simple task
and will require the support of the state as a whole. Campus growth, along with upgrades
of existing facilities, will require $500 million per year in capital funding. The
university will need to hire approximately 3,000 new faculty members for enrollment
growth alone. Student services, from housing to advising, will likewise require expansion.
UC must also continue to receive the operating budget support necessary to preserve
the high-quality programs that attract students to the university in the first place,
"We will grow wisely, we will be innovative, and we will work cooperatively
with our neighbors and with our partners in the other segments of higher education,"
Atkinson said. "This is not a challenge we can tackle alone. It truly is an
issue of shared responsibility for California's children, and for the future of the
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