The California State University enrolls over 450,000 students, graduating over 92,000 last year to address the workforce needs in California, especially in critical industries such as agriculture, engineering, business, technology, media, and computer science. There is a pressing demand for student access to the CSU, particularly among traditionally underrepresented communities, as indicated by fall 2008 freshman applications for Latino and African-American students, which increased by 19 percent and 5 percent respectively. Access to the CSU campuses has also grown because the CSU offers a quality education at the most affordable four-year public university system in the country.
The CSU is involved in numerous efforts to increase educational opportunities for underrepresented students, as exhibited in a variety of outreach and academic preparation programs. In collaboration with the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education, the California State University developed the Early Assessment Program (EAP) to provide students, families, and high schools the opportunity to assess 11th grade student readiness for college-level English and mathematics. These are necessary skills to be successful in college and the workforce.
The CSU has also continued "Super Sundays" to work with churches in the Los Angeles and Bay areas that serve large African-American congregations in an effort to increase the pool of African-American students, particularly male, who are eligible to attend a four-year university. The CSU created the "How to Get to College" poster, which describes the steps for middle and high school students (grades 6-12) and their families to take to prepare and apply for college and includes information regarding financial aid. The poster, which has served as a model for similar publications at universities across the country, won a silver medal in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) international Circle of Excellence Awards competition.
The demand for student access has outpaced funding increases in recent years, leaving enrollment about 11,000 students above funded levels for the 2007/08 fiscal year. Compounding matters, the state was unable to provide the funding increases called for in the Higher Education Compact for the 2008/09 fiscal year. As a consequence, the CSU is having to take "defensive" measures to balance demand for access while preventing erosion of student services and instructional quality. These measures have included establishing earlier than normal deadlines for freshman applications to our campuses.
In order to address the state's workforce needs, now more than ever the state needs to return to treating higher education as an investment in California's future. The 2009/10 CSU budget represents a resumption of state education priorities under the Higher Education Compact to ensure student access, address compensation issues, increase student financial aid, and fund CSU mandatory costs.
Funding provided by the governor and legislature for K-12 math and science teacher preparation programs will allow the CSU to double the production of teachers by the 2010/11 academic year. In addition, the CSU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the California Community Colleges to establish integrated two-year to four-year programs that provide a continuous and seamless sequence of preparation for math and science teaching. CSU campuses are working with their regional feeder community colleges to establish fully aligned math and science programs.
The CSU will continue efforts to address the workforce needs of California in the areas of nursing, engineering, and the sciences. The CSU will produce an additional 750 new nurses in the next three years, and is committed to addressing the shortage of mid-level managers with engineering experience by piloting a number of Professional Science Master's (PSM) programs. The CSU plans to have 15 PSM programs on 13 campuses within the next two years. Programs will be in bioinformatics, biostatistics, biotechnology, clinical project management, computational science, ecological economics, environmental science, and forensic science. These critical workforce needs are being addressed with private foundation funding.
The Higher Education Compact affords CSU campuses the fiscal stability to plan student enrollment, hire qualified faculty and staff, grow critical academic programs, and mitigate overwhelming increases in student fees. The CSU recognizes that the Compact funding does not address the cost of the current collective bargaining agreements or demand for student enrollment. The Compact only made moderate progress to address over $500 million in recent budget reductions. This deficiency is compounded by a $215 million budget shortfall in 2008/09 and does not fully address the current demand for student services, nursing programs, K-12 teachers, or compensation needs. With the understanding that the Compact represents the floor and not the ceiling for state higher education support, this budget proposes funding in addition to the Compact to support other essential CSU funding priorities in 2009/10.
The CSU recognizes the state's overall fiscal condition and competing challenges that affect the decision to support additional funding above the Higher Education Compact. However, there are fundamental areas that are represented in the 2009/10 CSU budget that are not only vital for students completing their degrees, but also play a major role in California's economy and, ultimately, add tax revenue to the state's General Fund. The CSU funding priorities for 2009/10 were formed in consultation with the members of the CSU Board of Trustees, campus presidents, representatives of the CSU Academic Senate, members of the System Budget Advisory Committee (which includes student, faculty, staff, alumni, union, and administrative representatives), and the chief administrative and academic officers of the CSU, with an eye toward the long-range goals and needs of the university. Full funding under the Compact and recognition of the CSU's additional funding request represent a modest yet critical investment that will produce an overwhelming rate of return from our students and a major benefit to the workforce and fiscal stability of the State of California.