Despite massive cuts and closed enrollments at the California State University system, the percentage of minority students is not expected to drop, Chancellor Charles B. Reed said Tuesday in a press briefing.
“We are going to try not to do that,” Dr. Reed said to Diverse. He notes that some 54 percent of the system’s 450,000 students are “people of color” and that no changes in that level are expected. “We are holding workshops and are holding meetings to make sure of this,” he said.
Even so, the nation’s largest university system is undergoing unprecedented stress as it tries to cope with California’s budget crisis. A $564 million budget reduction is forcing to school to raise fees, furlough staff and close enrollments.
Fifteen of the system’s 23 campuses will stop accepting applications for the fall 2010 term on Nov. 30, he said. The remaining campuses will close four to six weeks later. Some 4,000 fewer students are enrolled this fall and about 10,000 more students won’t be in class next spring, Reed said.
CSU will need to reduce an additional 40,000 students over the next two years.
“Denying student access is just about the worst thing I can do,” Reed said.
With CSU’s admissions closing dates looming, there has been a remarkable surge in applicants trying to beat the deadlines, he said. In recent weeks, the system has received 266,000 applications for fall 2010. That is 53 percent higher than a year ago when the financial crisis began taking its toll.
In upper divisions (junior and senior years) at system schools, applications are up 127 percent, he said. Some 32 percent more freshmen are applying than last year.
CSU has closed enrollments for winter and spring 2010. Only a limited number of students were accepted systemwide for the winter term and no new applications were accepted for spring 2010.
As schools cull potential applicants, Reed said the system has gone to an “impaction” system to tightening reviews. While CSU has traditionally been “liberal and lenient” in accepting underqualified students, Reed said, schools will be allowed to tighten admissions standards, such as accepting only “B” scholars instead of “C” students. The system will tighten standards for community college transfer students as well. Students from a system school’s service area will still be given preference.
Reed, however, said schools will consider if a student is “educationally disadvantaged” in their review process, noting that low-income applicants don’t get as much support from their families.
California’s budget predicament has prompted CSU to raise fees, which has brought on a slew of protests and sit-ins. This fall, for example, fees have gone up $672 for undergraduates, $780 for teacher credentialed students and $828 for graduate students. These hikes are in addition to an earlier $306 fee hike.
As CSU tightens its belt, however, it is working on ways to help bring back funding levels. Reed said CSU is seeking “recover and reinvest” elements for its budget requests. It will ask the state Legislature for a total of $884 million to bring overall state General Fund support to $3.3 billion.
“We need to show the governor and the legislature what the real needs are,” Reed said.
Reed considers the Obama administration stimulus spending of $716 million given to the state’s higher education system as a major help.
“The Obama stimulus package saved our life,” he said. “We would be underwater without a breathing apparatus without it.”