California: re-booting higher education
With community college enrollment down in California by 300,000 students, but an increase in demand, many are left in the midst of dire economic realities which demand bold, new strategies.
A major re-boot seems to be one solution for a 2-year community college in California, according to US News, which reports on the problem of “too many students and not enough seats.”
In California, 2.6 million students attend community colleges, according to PBS. Individual community colleges are wrestling with what to do, as administrators believe that it’s more important to focus on people who need jobs and those who need college-level classes to get on with their lives than it is to provide educational recreation to people who have already finished their college careers.
The answer for one college seems to be differential tuition.
Santa Monica College is rocking the policy boat of higher education in California as it plans to begin a two-tier pricing schedule that would charge higher tuition rates for higher-demand courses, reports Truth on the Market, and its Superintendent and President, Chui L. Tsang, (from Matchcollege website information) seems to be focused on finding answers to the situation and meeting the needs of the community.
The Santa Monica plan embodies a fundamental shift in policy that should be given more attention, says Patrick Callan, president of the San Jose-based Higher Education Policy Institute. “It’s disheartening that the discussion for many colleges is what’s the best way to ration education,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “…But it seems to me that rationing on the basis of financial means is an issue that has to do with what the mission of a community college really is. Whether or not it can be finessed legally, it ought to be debated as a major policy issue.”
The Santa Monica governing board’s plan to offer certain higher-demand classes for a higher price, when regular classes are filled, has already been approved. Many are watching to see if the idea, which may be the first such strategy in the entire nation, will help with the adverse side effects of poor leadership and the deterioration of local, state and federal revenues.