March 15, 2010
The number of California residents applying to out-of-state universities increased significantly in the past year, and experts worry that the trend could have dire consequences for the state.
The San Jose Mercury Newsreports that university officials across the country are seeing record numbers of California residents applying for next fall's freshman class. Arizona State University, for example, reported a 24 percent increase in California applicants, while the University of Delaware saw a 36 percent increase.
Public policy experts warn that the trend could lead to a decline of college graduates in California. "It's a bad idea to have some your most talented high school graduates leaving the state to go to college elsewhere--because it is less likely that they'll come back to California once they leave," explained Hans Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California, who was quoted by the Mercury News. "We need more college graduates to help build our economy."
Johnson explained that having so many students leave the state is "a sign that California is less desirable for people who are on a good path in life. And it is a reflection of the lack of educational opportunities here."
According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, the student exodus from California could very likely worsen. Currently, devastating state budget cuts are forcing the University of California and California State University to increase tuition and turn away applicants, causing students to scramble for alternatives. But a new report says that by 2019, California colleges and universities will need to serve an expected 387,000 more undergraduates.
The report, released by the California Postsecondary Education Commission and titled "Ready or Not, Here They Come," predicts dire consequences for the future: If the state does not fully fund enrollment for the state college systems at 2008-9 levels, as many as 277,000 students could be turned away next year.
"Unless the state makes appropriate investments in student access, college-going and degree attainment," said Stacy Wilson, a senior researcher for the commission who was quoted in the LA Times, "the next generation of young adults will be less educated than previous generations and this lower level of educational attainment will have a draconian effect on the health and welfare of California."
The report points out that according to a 2005 report by the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center, the state receives a net return of $3 for every dollar it invests in higher education. "That is one of the major messages that we are trying to demonstrate," said Wilson in the LA Times, who explained that the return can be seen in higher incomes and increased tax revenues. "The return on investment is going to be huge."
Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman