California's higher education system is in decline, with fewer students able to afford college, falling college participation rates and dwindling state support, according to a study released Wednesday.
The report suggests that the state, once celebrated nationally for its three-tiered system of public colleges, has lost status as a leader in such areas as affordability, preparation of high school graduates, college-going rates and investment in higher education. The analysis was by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Cal State Sacramento.
"This report demonstrates the consequences of resting on reputations and policies of yesteryear," the study concludes. "California is nowhere near the leader on the measures of higher education performance that the nation's governors and educational leaders have been tracking for over a decade. We are average, at best, and trending downward."
Among the findings:
• California ranks last among states in funding per college student from state appropriations and tuition and fees.
• Tuition and fee increases exceed the national average rate of increase.
• The college-going rate of high school graduates rose from 53% to 58% between 2003 and 2007 but dropped back to 53% in 2009.