USC Report Urges California To Expand Private Colleges To Meet Enrollment Increase




California must turn to non-profit and for-profit private colleges and universities to meet the future demand for a more educated workforce, a new report urges.

With state schools over capacity and crippled by budget cuts, the slate of recommendations includes having private schools teach classes on public campuses and state funding for non-profit private schools to grow their enrollment by up to 10 percent, according to the study released Monday by the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at USC.

“We’re facing a perfect storm. The economy of the state and country is at risk if we don’t have more students participating in higher education,” said USC University Professor William G. Tierney, Wilbur-Keiffer Professor of Higher Education and director of the center. Tierney co-authored the report with Guilbert Hentschke, a professor and the Richard T. Cooper and Mary Catherine Cooper Chair in Public School Administration at the Rossier School of Education.

President Obama in his State of the Union address called for the United States to regain the top spot in the world after falling to ninth based on the percentage of young adults who finish college. California is expected to face an estimated shortfall of one million college-educated workers by 2025, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Meanwhile, students attending the University of California system paid 32 percent more in fees last year – and three times what they would have paid a decade ago. And Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed slashing $1 billion from the state’s universities and $400 million from community colleges. That leaves two choices, some educational leaders have said: Raise tuition or cut enrollment at public campuses.

“State legislatures are strapped. Public education institutions are downsizing. The result is paralysis,” Tierney said.

Here are the eight recommendations outlined in the USC report “Making It Happen: Increasing College Access and Attainment in California Higher Education:”

-Initiate state funding for students to take classes offered by private institutions, especially in high-demand majors such as nursing, science, engineering and math.

-Create a common course numbering system between all accredited institutions to allow easy transfer of courses between the UC, CSU, private non-profit and for-profit systems. The study’s authors say a lack of cooperation across the various postsecondary systems results in students taking more courses than necessary.

-Offer state incentives for non-profit private institutions to increase student enrollment by up to 10 percent.

-Move aggressively toward an online learning program for introductory courses in professional degree programs such as business, marketing and accounting to free up seats in brick-and-mortar classrooms.

-Change the “quasi-cartel” licensing requirements used to keep some out-of-state programs from competing in California.

-Exert greater oversight over the state’s for-profit institutions without scaring away potential providers. In fall 2008, California had about 158,000 students attending two- and four-year for-profit institutions – many of them at-risk students. “If we closed the for-profit sector down today where would these students go and at what price to taxpayers?” the study’s authors write.

-Outsource remedial education by allowing private providers to offer intensive remedial writing and math classes through senior year and the summer before college.

-Create a statewide planning board including all public and private institutions that can monitor and change policies geared toward achieving student enrollment capacity.

Tierney has spent over two decades researching college access for underrepresented youth.

Hentschke served as dean of the USC Rossier School of Education from 1988 to 2000. His research focuses on the finance and governance of public, non-profit and for-profit education organizations.

The National University System funded the study and report.

For a full copy of the report, go to


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