California’s University System Needs Restructuring

Californias University System Needs Restructuring

Dear Editor,

In addition to the UC system’s ten campuses, public higher education in our state includes the 23 campuses of the California State Universities, and the 108 campuses of the California Community Colleges. The Master Plan designates the University of California as the primary state-supported institution for doctoral degrees, law and medicine.

No such preferred treatment applies to other private or state institutions. The Master Plan is one of California’s truly outstanding accomplishments, because each and every public high school in California is entitled to send at least 4 percent of its graduates to a prestigious University of California. California community colleges have had to cut classes and turn away more than 600,000 students in recent years because of budget reductions.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Corinthian (a Santa Ana-based company, one of the world’s largest for-profit college businesses). That company allegedly targeted low-income Californians through “aggressive marketing campaigns” that inaccurately represented job placement rates and school programs. Corinthian, which also offers job-training programs under such names as Heald College, is also accused of reporting false work placement rates to investors and accrediting agencies. Harris said Corinthian executives had devised a “predatory scheme.”

Palomar College is one of 108 colleges in the California Community Colleges system and eight in San Diego County. It has the best of locations in San Marcos, Calif.

In addition, the college operates an educational center in Escondido and seven smaller centers throughout north San Diego County, in Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, Fallbrook, Ramona, Pauma Valley, Borrego Springs and Camp Pendleton.

The bulk of colleges and universities ought to reduce freshmen quotas. Instead, the education authorities need to give viable and competitive colleges a larger enrollment quota so that more students can receive better educations. It is also problematic that underperforming colleges will persist in maintaining their freshmen quotas without the current government subsidy.

The big question is how to ensure fairness in assessing colleges and universities. What’s most worrisome is that few regional universities outside California would remain alive if the formula is applied uniformly. In this regard, the education authorities, both federal and state, should be wise enough to distinguish between good and bad. The time is long overdue for speeding up the restructuring of universities. There should be more drastic cuts in enrollment quotas at underperforming colleges, particularly at over-priced, for-profit colleges: They must be weeded out more swiftly.

Likewise, focusing on universities nationwide is a better choice than forcefully closing down the UC system, the CSU system or the CCC system. To do that, the government should secure its budget by closing predatory and non-competitive schools nationwide “as soon as possible.”

The Universities of California, the California State Universities and the California Community Colleges are top schools. The Master Plan should be strengthened — not abandoned.

— Richard Thompson

UCSD Alumnus ‘83

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