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UC Commission on Future issues final report

The system should enroll more out-of-state students and urge quicker graduation, it says.

December 07, 2010|By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times

The University of California should enroll more out-of-state students, push more students to graduate in three years, create more online classes and look for ways to operate more efficiently, according to a report aimed at helping the 10-campus system weather stormy economic times.

The final report from UC's Commission on the Future, released Monday, pulls together ideas that have been discussed for more than a year in response to reductions in state funding for higher education.

"The goal must be for the university to emerge on the other side of crises fit and ready to serve California as well and as far into the future as it has in the past," said the report. More than 80 professors, administrators, students, and business and labor leaders participated in its creation. The UC regents and faculty panels will now review it.

Some recommendations are already being put in place. For example, the report calls for increasing the percentage of non-California undergraduates from the current 6% to 10% systemwide, for the higher tuition those students pay. UC Berkeley and UCLA are already well above 10% in out-of-state enrollment, and other campuses are stepping up their recruiting of out-of-state freshmen.

The UC panel also called for removing roadblocks to timely graduation and urged campuses to review required courses "to ensure that they are not overly burdensome." And it supported new programs encouraging students to finish in just three years by attending summer school and using credits from advanced placement tests.

The commission hotly debated whether UC should sharply expand the number of online classes. UC faculty members have resisted widespread use of Internet-based classes, saying it would lower educational quality and make the university too impersonal. A compromise was reached earlier this year with a plan to raise $6 million in private donations to launch 40 online undergraduate courses, an experiment that could be widened later.

The commission did not endorse more controversial proposals, including large enrollment cuts and allowing the most popular UC campuses to charge higher tuition than others. But those ideas were mentioned as possibilities if the state's economic situation deteriorates.

In a telephone news conference Monday, UC President Mark G. Yudof said he did not believe that the report and the recent tuition increase are pushing the university toward privatization, as some critics have said. He emphasized UC's public service mission and many low-income students.

"If you look at who we teach and the role we play, we are not privatizing. We are still a public university," he said. "But it's not free."

larry.gordon@latimes.com

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