Senate Looks at Future Enrollment Crunch
By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
"Tidal Wave II" is headed our way, and how the campus will respond is the backdrop to many important and hotly contested planning issues.
Population growth, and a huge number of Baby Boomer offspring approaching college age, will mean 60,000 additional UC students between now and 2010.
"Like all UC campuses, we're going to be asked to do our part" to help educate them, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ told the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate Oct. 21.
Of 60,000 additional UC students, the state legislature has tentatively assigned Berkeley 4,000 -- a figure Christ characterized as "a hope rather than a requirement."
In her report to the Senate, Christ noted that Berkeley faces "a large number of constraints and obstacles" in trying to accommodate more students. But "to not do our part," she predicted, would hurt the campus in the long run.
One much-debated option for accommodating more students is year-round operation through increased student enrollment in Summer Sessions courses. Christ reported that 9,000 students already enroll in Summer Sessions each year, taking an average of five units each. Fifty percent of campus undergrads, she said, use Summer Sessions units to make progress to degree.
"We see students voting with their feet" for summer classes, Christ said.
Other options for meeting increased enrollment demands include increased student enrollment in off-campus centers and programs like study abroad or "UC in DC," or decreasing the average time-to-degree as a way to graduate more students without adding to the number on campus at any one time.
Yet another proposal -- which Christ called "difficult to contemplate" -- would be to increase the student population during the regular academic year.
Christ noted a "conflict of strategies" between the state legislature, which is calling for campuses to accept more students, and local governments like the city of Berkeley, which are inclined to nix such proposals.
On the other hand, some California communities are advocating that UC build another campus, in addition to UC Merced, to accommodate the enrollment bulge. Because of the enormous capital expenses involved, both Berdahl and Christ believe that option would have a negative effect on Berkeley.
Christ said that during a summer retreat, campus deans and faculty compiled a list of planning principles to guide decision making on the enrollment issue -- for example, that any program initiated to accommodate more students should not degrade the undergraduate experience or exacerbate the student housing crunch. The group will continue its work at another session in early November.
The Academic Senate also received a report from Chancellor Berdahl summarizing budget allocations for the current fiscal year and their impact on important campus initiatives.
State funding for the Berkeley campus, the report said, increased by $34.4 million for the fiscal year, with $17 million earmarked specifically for staff and faculty salary benefits improvements.