UC commission calls for steep increase in graduate enrollment and support

30 January 2002 | To serve the state’s needs by 2010, the University of California must boost systemwide graduate student enrollment by at least 11,000, a nearly 50 percent increase, and increase support for individual graduate students, a university commission has concluded.

California ranks last among the 15 largest states in growth in graduate enrollments over the last 10 years, the commission reported, and is one of only five states in which graduate enrollments declined during the last decade.

The 22-member Commission on the Growth and Support of Graduate Education, appointed by UC Board of Regents Chair Sue Johnson and UC President Richard Atkinson, spent last year examining unmet needs for graduate education and financial support for graduate students.

It presented its findings to the regents at their meeting in Los Angeles on Jan. 16.

“In a knowledge-based economy where advanced education is at a premium, the fact that the University of California is lagging so dramatically in graduate enrollments is an issue that simply must be addressed,” Atkinson said.

Graduate students help meet the need for a well-educated workforce, and they are critical to filling the faculty ranks at California’s colleges and universities, where an estimated 40,000 new faculty will need to be hired in the coming decade to teach the increased numbers of undergraduates expected to enroll. California’s colleges will depend on graduates from UC’s doctoral programs for many of these hires, the commission noted.

But commissioners said that to enroll the numbers of graduate students needed and to recruit the most talented students to UC, the university will need to increase funding to meet students’ educational and living costs.

The commission concluded that by 2010, UC must increase funding for graduate student support to $215 million annually, about a 50 percent increase. The bulk of that money is expected from traditional sources, but there will still be a $65 million shortfall.

The commission recommended creation of state-funded postsecondary teaching fellowships for UC and other postsecondary institutions in California. Doctoral students would receive fellowship stipends in return for a commitment to provide four years of teaching service at a public or private postsecondary institution in California. Funding for graduate student support would also be sought from federal and private sources, as well as from the state.

The commission also said that UC must review its own practices regarding issues of great concern to graduate students — such as affordable housing, programs to enhance faculty-student and student-student interaction, and career planning and placement services.


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