Thursday, November 16, 2000
Mary Spletter (510) 987-9004



In a move designed to maintain its leadership role in California's economy, the University of California announced plans today (Nov. 16) to help meet the state's future workforce needs by adding 11,000 graduate students to the 10-campus UC system over the next decade.

"As a high-technology state and innovation leader, California will rely on highly educated workers to provide a competitive advantage in the global marketplace," said Provost and Senior Vice President C. Judson King during a presentation to the UC Board of Regents, which met in Los Angeles.

The university will pursue a combination of strategies to attract and retain graduate students in the coming years, including:

  • More funding dedicated to research assistantships as research grants and contracts grow, including state-funded research initiatives proposed in the 2001-02 budget;


  • More funding for teaching assistantships as undergraduate enrollments grow;


  • Increased fee waivers for research assistants and teaching assistants, consistent with the university's contract with the union representing UC teaching assistants; and


  • Examination by UC of other opportunities to augment graduate student financial support from other university fund sources, such as student fees and private gifts.

King also announced the formation of a special commission that will develop strategies to provide more financial support for this graduate enrollment increase. The commission will be chaired by King and S. Sue Johnson, chair of the Board of Regents, and will report its findings by July 1, 2001.

Despite the university's national reputation for excellence in graduate education, enrollment has been virtually level for decades. By comparison, undergraduate enrollment at UC has doubled during the past 30 years. As a consequence, the proportion of graduate students has steadily dropped from 30 percent of total enrollment in 1965 to just 17 percent today.

"The university's percentage of graduate students is considerably lower than the percentages at UC's four public and four private comparison institutions and also is lower than at 11 public university members of the Association of American Universities," said King.

California business leaders endorsed the university's graduate education initiative.

"The University of California must keep pace by increasing graduate education programs to meet industry's thirst for knowledge-based workers," said Tom Burnham, vice president of human resources for Irvine, Calif.-based Allergan. "Failure to do so will diminish California's competitive position in the global economy."

"Industry hires graduates with bachelor's degrees, but they lack two important attributes," said Ted Smith, founder and chairman of FileNet Corp., a $400 million Orange County software company based in Costa Mesa, Calif. "Students without graduate degrees lack experience in doing real design work in disciplined commercial or research organizations. They also lack the training and experience with advanced design tools and methodology taught in advanced degree programs."

In addition to contributing to the California economy, King said that graduate students contribute to the broader society in a number of different ways. For instance, he said, graduate students are needed for their abilities to "think outside the box" in shaping California's future, to replace university faculty who are retiring, and to teach the increasing numbers of undergraduate students who already are arriving at the doors of UC and the California State University system.

He told the Regents that graduate students are highly qualified to meet future state workforce demands because their programs "require intensive study, highly honed analytical skills and original contributions to knowledge that fosters creativity."

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