Master Plan for Higher Education outdated

    The Master Plan for Higher Education lays out the framework for public universities in California and directs UC campuses to accept only the top 12.5 percent of each graduating class.

    Many regents cited the 1960 plan’s limit in their decision to raise the minimum GPA required for admission and effectively close the university’s doors to 750 qualified students each year, starting in fall 2007.

    However, the Master Plan’s authors could not have imagined the modern service economy that has transformed our society and made a college degree practically a prerequisite for a good job.

    Instead of a vision for governance of the UC system, the plan has recently become a tool for politicians. The regents continue to hold it up as the premier model of public university planning for the nation, even as they ignore its original promise of “tuition-free [college education] to all residents of the state,” and continue to raise student fees.

    The board disregarded the Master Plan completely last spring to accommodate Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget compact, denying eligible students a space at the university for the first time in more than three decades. If the University must make changes as a result of its budget situation, it should say so instead of hiding the truth behind an outdated document.

    Members of the UC Student Association should be applauded for their recent decision to recommend changes that would make the Master Plan once again relevant to the state. Now, lawmakers must do the same.

    A new proposal must address California’s fiscal reality and its needs in the 21st century. Without these critical updates, the original Master Plan is of no more use to Californians than poodle skirts and bomb shelters.

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