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Calif. universities consider 3-year degrees

April 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A college degree in three years: That idea is being considered by California universities to get more graduates through the system faster, saving money for schools and students. California is falling behind in higher education. According to a new study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), by the year 2025 the state will have 1 million fewer college-educated workers than the economy will require. PPIC researchers say the only solution is to increase the number of high-school graduates eligible for both University of California and California State University admissions.

"This is a good report. The big problem is funding," said Cal State Long Beach Vice Provost Dr. David Dowell. "This year on our campus alone, we were forced to turn away about 30,000 college-ready applicants to our campus for lack of funding."

Dowell is among the many higher-education experts who agree California needs more college grads but say that without more government funding, the goal is impossible to reach. In response to the budget cuts, some colleges and universities in the country are already offering three-year undergraduate degrees. UC regents are considering the idea. Proponents say it saves students' time and money.

"I think it's an idea that is very much worth exploring but it's not a magic bullet that will solve the access problem," said Dowell.

Jerry Lucido, executive director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research Policy and Practice, agrees the three-year degree is not the answer for California.

"I personally am not enthusiastic about a three-year program at this time," said Lucido. "Reducing the time students have in college on a foundation of uneven preparation doesn't sound education-sound to me."

Lucido adds there are no easy solutions to the budget issues but the state's higher education challenges cannot be ignored.


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