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Thursday, February 19, 1999
Brad Hayward (510) 987-9195


Facing growing undergraduate demand and a need to expand graduate enrollments to help fuel California's knowledge-based economy, the University of California is considering a range of options for expanding student capacity over the next decade, UC officials told the Board of Regents today (Feb. 18).

Based on new projections provided by the state Department of Finance, UC estimates its total general-campus enrollment will grow to more than 210,000 full-time-equivalent students by 2010, more than 60,000 above the  current enrollment level. That amount of growth would exceed the university's existing enrollment plans by more than 20,000 students.

The university is facing twin challenges in this area, said C. Judson King, UC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. First, undergraduate demand, fueled by growth in California's high school population, is expected to increase rapidly. At the same time, King said, UC must not compromise enrollment growth for graduate students.

California's success in the global high-tech economy is tied to the innovations and trained work force provided by university research and graduate education, King said. However, the state has been under-investing in this area, he added. UC educated fewer graduate students in 1997-98 than it did a decade earlier, and UC's graduate enrollment as a percentage of  otal enrollment is lower than that of its comparison institutions. To meet the state's needs, UC is planning to enroll at least 7,800 additional graduate students by 2010.

"The university remains committed to maintaining access for all eligible undergraduates under the Master Plan for Higher Education, and growth in undergraduate enrollment remains an important part of our planning," King said. "At the same time, California's future economic vitality requires higher enrollments in our graduate programs."

UC is considering several options for gaining the extra capacity it needs to meet the enrollment demand. The options include:

UC expects to enroll an average of 148,500 full-time-equivalent students on its general campuses in 1998-99 - 122,500 undergraduates and 26,000 graduate students.

UC President Richard C. Atkinson said the university will proceed cautiously in planning for enrollment growth because expanded capacity depends upon adequate funding and because current projections indicate that enrollments may begin to decline slightly after 2012. The president emphasized the need for growth in UC's graduate enrollments.

"California's success as a technological leader, as an innovator of new industries, and as a major player in the global economy requires the constant creation and application of new knowledge," Atkinson said. "Its economic future, therefore, is directly tied to the ideas and the highly educated work force generated by university graduate education and research programs."

Despite high-quality programs and strong student demand, enrollments in UC graduate programs were lower in 1997-98 than they were in 1987-88, both in number and as a percentage of total enrollment. Over the last 30 years, graduate enrollments have increased 7 percent while undergraduate enrollments have risen 100 percent.

Atkinson said the newly revised projections of enrollment demand demonstrate the need for UC Merced, the university's 10th campus, which is scheduled to open in 2005. "A new UC campus in Merced, enrolling 5,000 students by 2010, is a vital element in the university's plan to handle the enrollment growth we are facing," he said.