CSU to Slash Enrollment By 40,000 Students

    Grappling with a $564 million budget shortfall, the California State University system announced plans Tuesday to cut enrollment by 40,000 students over the next two years.

    “Denying students access to the California State University is just about the worst thing I can do during a recession,” Chancellor Charles B. Reed said. “But we have to provide a quality higher education to students, and we cannot educate more students with less.”

    The university system received 266,152 applications this year, a 53-percent increase from last year. CSU officials attribute most of the increased demand to students hoping to transfer from community college, who had to wait to apply in the fall after spring enrollment was cancelled last year.

    “One thing I know is that in the past, Cal State was very lenient in admitting students who hadn’t completed all of their course work or liberal arts requirements,” Reed said. “I believe those students are going to be turned away.”

    According to the Contra Costa Times, the campuses will cut enrollment by adhering more strictly to CSU policy on academic dismissal of students who aren’t performing well, while potentially eliminating winter and spring admission for the 2010-11 academic year.

    “The state funds a finite number of [students],” Cal Poly spokesman Tim Lynch told the Contra Costa Times. “If the university exceeds that number, it incurs the entire cost of education for those additional students. Yes, those additional students will pay fees, but those fees cover only a slice of the overall cost of education. The bottom line is that if we did not cap enrollment, we would end up diluting everyone’s education.”

    The CSU system has 23 campuses across California. The system currently enrolls 450,000 students and employs 48,000 faculty and staff. Last year, the university raised student fees by 30 percent and implemented furloughs for nearly all campus employees.

    “The effect on students is huge,” Miles Nevin, executive director of the California Students Association, said. “What that does is decrease access to the system to qualified students, and that’s the bottom line. More importantly, while it’s going to have an immediate impact, the greater impact is that the CSU fuels the state’s economy, and when you’re not educating students to become police officers and nurses and engineers, we’re not going to be growing our economy.”

    Cal State Northridge University senior Irene Darbinyan said she was disappointed to hear that fewer students would have access to the CSU system.

    “I believe that every applicant deserves an equal opportunity for enrollment,” Darbinyan said. “It is truly disappointing to see an increase of students seeking to create a better future for themselves be denied the benefits of attending a CSU.”

    University officials stressed the importance of applying for admission by November 30, when about half of the system’s campuses will stop accepting applications for all freshmen and most transfer students. They also encouraged students to apply to the campus closest to their residential area, as preference is given to local applicants.

    Reed previewed the proposed 2010-11 budget that the CSU Board of Trustees will vote on at its Nov. 17 meeting. The budget will then go before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Legislature.

    Labeled a “recover and reinvest” budget, the proposal requests that the state restore a total of $884 million in funding, including a request for the Legislature to fund a projected 10-percent student-fee increase.

    “This is a very ambitious budget in these very challenging times,” Reed said. “But it is critical that the state legislature and administration realize the true fiscal needs to run the CSU.”

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