UC regents prepare university for projected 20-year state population growth

Amanda Hart/File

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At its Thursday meeting, the UC Board of Regents discussed how the university will need to adapt to accommodate projected population changes in California over the next two decades.

With California’s population expected to grow by 10 million by 2040, the regents addressed how to serve a growing undergraduate population while continuing to meet the promises of the state Master Plan, which guarantees enrollment at a UC campus for the top one-eighth of California’s high school graduates.

“We ask that we prioritize this discussion … to ensure that future UC students have access to the same opportunities and outcomes that students today possess,” said UC President Janet Napolitano during the meeting.

Additionally, the regents examined the future of diversity in the UC system, particularly considering the projection that Latinos will compose half of the college-age population by 2040. Furthermore, the number of Latino college applicants is increasing at twice the rate of Latino high school graduates.

Given the expected increase in undergraduates, the university will need to prepare to accommodate more students, said Aimée Dorr, UC provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, at the meeting. She added during the meeting that some campuses have the option to expand onto existing land or onto satellite campuses.

“A new campus is the last choice,” Dorr said. “Some campuses have land and can really grow that way.”

In addition to talking about the growing number of undergraduates, the regents also discussed the need to increase the number of graduate students. Currently, the proportion of graduate students on UC campuses is declining compared to the undergraduate population.

According to Dorr during the meeting, when a campus’s resources are limited, they are allocated more to undergraduate education than to graduate programs.

“One of the areas where … we have real growth potential and where there is a need in California is in the master’s degree,” Napolitano said at the meeting. “You can almost make the argument that the master’s degree is the new bachelor’s degree.”

Additionally, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced at the meeting a partnership with the university to promote student voter turnout through email reminders and additional opportunities to register. Padilla said during the meeting that in the 2014 general election, only eight percent of California’s 18-to-24 year olds voted.

“We need young people to participate in our elections and good public policy will continue to follow,” Padilla said.

Contact Kailey Martinez-Ramage and Patricia Serpa at [email protected].