Major Features of the California Master Plan for Higher Education

The original Master Plan was approved in principle by The Regents and the State Board of Education (which at that time governed the California State University and California Community Colleges) and submitted to the Legislature. A special session of the 1960 Legislature passed the Donahoe Higher Education Act (Title 3, Division 5, Part 40, of the Education Code beginning at Section 66000), which included many of the Master Plan recommendations as well as additional legislation necessary to implement the plan. However, many of the key aspects of the Master Plan were never enacted into law.

The major features of the Master Plan as adopted in 1960 and amended in subsequent legislative reviews are as follows:

1. Differentiation of functions among the public postsecondary education segments:

* UC is designated the State's primary academic research institution and is to provide undergraduate, graduate and professional education. UC is given exclusive jurisdiction in public higher education for doctoral degrees (with the two exceptions--see CSU below) and for instruction in law, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine (the original plan included architecture).

* CSU's primary mission is undergraduate education and graduate education through the master's degree including professional and teacher education. Faculty research is authorized consistent with the primary function of instruction. SB 724 (2006) authorized CSU to award a specific Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership. Other doctorates can be awarded jointly with UC or an independent institution.

* The California Community Colleges have as their primary mission providing academic and vocational instruction for older and younger students through the first two years of undergraduate education (lower division). In addition to this primary mission, the Community Colleges are authorized to provide remedial instruction, English as a Second Language courses, adult noncredit instruction, community service courses, and workforce training services.

2. The establishment of the principle of universal access and choice, and differentiation of admissions pools for the segments:

* UC was to select from among the top one-eighth (12.5%) of the high school graduating class.

* CSU was to select from among the top one-third (33.3%) of the high school graduating class.

* California Community Colleges were to admit any student capable of benefiting from instruction.

Subsequent policy has modified the Master Plan to provide that all California residents in the top one-eighth or top one-third of the statewide high school graduating class who apply on time be offered a place somewhere in the UC or CSU system, respectively, though not necessarily at the campus or in the major of first choice.

The transfer function is an essential component of the commitment to access. UC and CSU are to establish a lower division to upper division ratio of 40:60 to provide transfer opportunities to the upper division for Community College students, and eligible California Community College transfer students are to be given priority in the admissions process.

3. Reaffirmation of California's long-time commitment to the principle of tuition-free education to residents of the state. However, the 1960 Master Plan did establish the principle that students should pay fees for auxiliary costs like dormitories and recreational facilities. Because of budgetary reductions, fees have been increased and used for instruction at UC and CSU in recent years, but fee increases have been accompanied by substantial increases in student financial aid.

4. The provisions on student aid, now called the Cal Grant program, are designed to ensure that needy and high-performing students have the ability to choose a California institution of their choice, whether it be UC, CSU, the community colleges, or the independent California colleges and universities. The Cal Grant maximum award level was designed to give students the choice of attending independent California colleges and universities, thereby partially alleviating the demand for spaces in public institutions.

5. The establishment of a governance structure for the segments, reaffirming the role of the Board of Regents of UC and establishing a Board of Trustees to oversee CSU and, in 1967, a Board of Governors for the Community Colleges.

6. The establishment of a statutory coordinating body, the Coordinating Council for Higher Education. This was replaced in 1973 by the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC).

Major legislative reviews of the Master Plan were conducted in the early 1970s and the late 1980s.  A more recent legislative review of the Master Plan, encompassing both K-12 and higher education (and pre-K education), began in 1999 and recommendations were adopted in 2002.

UC Educational Relations Department
UC Office of the President, January 2007
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