Breaking the Social Contract

The Fiscal Crisis in California Higher Education

by Roger W. Benjamin, Stephen J. Carroll

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The central finding of this report, commissioned by the California Education Round Table, is that the present course of higher education in California — in which student demand, tuition, and costs are rising much faster than public funding — cannot be sustained. Unless effective steps are taken to alter current trends, sizable numbers of Californians will be denied access to higher education within the next 20 years. If that should happen, many will find themselves excluded from the growing number of occupations that require postsecondary course work for employment. This education bottleneck is narrowing at a time when economic inequality is increasing in the state and social demographics are shifting. The research offers recommendations for coping with this crisis that emphasize the need for greater public support of higher education in California along with comprehensive institutional reform so that available resources can be reallocated and other changes implemented to streamline operations. California must devise an effective strategic plan now for developing its human resources.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation CAE document series. Council for Aid to Education reports (CAE) were monograph/reports (MR) produced by the Council for Aid to Education. CAEs were published at RAND from 1997 to 2000. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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