Tidal Wave II

UC Berkeley ponders strategies to handle projected student influx

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted 26 Jan 2000

To address projected increases in enrollment at California's public colleges and universities over the next 10 years, each UC campus has been asked to evaluate the feasibility of adding additional students and consider strategies to serve them. Berkeley's suggested target is 4,000 additional full-time equivalents.

But how could Berkeley, already bursting at the seams, accommodate this wave of students?

To answer this question, a study committee -- created by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol T. Christ and James Hyatt, vice chancellor-resource planning and budget -- was created to explore the issue and come up with possible strategies. Their report was issued last fall.

"There are a number of ways we can increase enrollment without increasing student population on the main campus during the regular school year," said Christ, citing the report's findings.

The committee identified several constraints confronting the campus. First is the campus's Long-Range Development Plan, which restricts and decreases the on-campus, two-semester average headcount from 30,000 students in 1999-2000 to 29,450 in 2005-06. The plan also restricts the on-campus assignable square feet for non-housing facilities. The campus is approaching both the enrollment and square-feet ceilings.

Funding, as it relates to long-range growth, is an additional constraint. Growth for the Berkeley campus, as well as other UC campuses, will be not possible in the absence of carefully negotiated changes in the long-range plans. Insufficient funding from the state, of both the operational and capital costs, would severely compromise quality, the committee found. Other significant issues include student housing, financial aid and the physical infrastructure related to the corresponding increases in faculty, staff and students.

The committee still identified several options to accommodate growth. One option, according to Christ, would be to consider increasing the minimum amount of units a student takes. Fifteen units is considered a normal load, but many students take as few as 12 units, often because of work, family and transportation issues. This keeps students on campus for a longer time. Currently, 48 percent of entering freshman graduate in four years, and 86% in six years.

Increasing the number of units a student must take creates a greater incentive for graduation in four years, said Christ.

This possible strategy also enables Berkeley to stay within the parameters defined in the campus's Long Range Development Plan, a binding legal document with the city of Berkeley that limits the number of day-time students on campus during regular semesters.

Creating additional off-campus education centers, such as distance learning and study-abroad programs, is another option for consideration to increase enrollment without adding bodies to the main campus, she said. UC Extension offers several programs at various locations in the Bay Area. Another promising site is the Richmond Field Station. Other potential off-campus sites include joint programs with UC San Francisco, particularly at its new Mission Bay campus, or other local colleges.

A third potential solution is increasing summer enrollment. A variety of incentives, such as financial aid and fee rebates, could be offered to encourage students to participate.

However, Christ is quick to point out that any decisions on Berkeley's course of action will not be made until the Legislature resolves the issue of providing additional state funding.

"This will be an open discussion that includes voices from all areas of the university. We want to use this moment of need on the part of the state to develop a plan that will benefit all on campus," said Christ.

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Produced by the staff of the Berkeleyan in the Office of Public Affairs. Questions or comments? E-mail berkeleyan@berkeley.edu.
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.