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2018 December 17

Changes in student populations

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:14
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There has been a lot of discussion at Inside Higher Education (and other higher-education media sites) lately about colleges failing because of enrollment difficulties due to the declining number of high-school graduates.

I think that this discussion has been colored largely by strongly regional phenomena.  A report by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the Northeast and Midwest are dropping in K–12 students, but the West and South are increasing.  Overall, the K–12 population is growing, though very slowly: projected growth is 0.18% a year, while past growth has been about 0.22% a year. So the story should not be of shrinking numbers of students for college, but a shift in where the students are coming from.  We may indeed have an oversupply of colleges in New England, with a shortage in the South and West.

Even more strongly, the report shows a shift in racial/ethnic demographics of the K–12 population, with a strong growth in Hispanic students (1.3% a year) and a shrinkage in white students (-0.5%/year).  The Asian/Pacific Islander category is expected to grow strongly also (1.4%/year), but black student population should remain fairly flat.  I wonder how much of the panic about colleges not being able to get students is due to the colleges marketing only to white students, who formed their traditional core, and not to the growing numbers of Hispanic students.

For projected number of high-school graduates, the racial shift is even stronger: White -0.7%/year, Black +1.2%/year, Hispanic  +1.9%/year, Asian/Pacific Islander +1.2%/year.

UCSC, where I teach, is bursting at the seams with far more students than we have the facilities for, with no signs that demand is shrinking.  UCSC qualifies as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, with about 26% of students being Hispanic, and UCSC also has a fairly large Asian enrollment (again, about 26%). Source:

I wonder how much of the discussion of the problem of shrinking enrollment in colleges is due to regional blinders and how much is due to racial blinders.

2016 September 19

Coast Starlight, college train

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:49
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The Coast Starlight train, which my son just took to return to UCSB, could reasonably be called the “college train” because of the number of large universities along its route. I’m really surprised that Amtrak does not do more marketing of the train to college students and their parents. They do have a 15% discount for students aged 13–25, no longer needing a special “student advantage” card, but marketing the Coast Starlight route still seems to be aimed mainly at summer tourists.

Here is a list of the stops on the Coast Starlight, and some of the nearby colleges and universities (found using Google Maps), with times by public transit from the Amtrak stop to the college. The listing of colleges is not intended to be complete, nor to be recommendations for the colleges—I just tried to pick a few of the colleges that I thought might attract students from far enough away to generate Amtrak customers.

I relied on Google Maps for transit timings, but did not attempt to synchronize to the Coast Starlight schedule—some of the connections may be awful.  You don’t want to rely on a tight connection to Amtrak, though, as the Coast Starlight is often an hour or more late. Many of these universities are close enough to the Amtrak stations that a taxi ride or Uber from the stations to campus would be a reasonable cost—still cheaper than flying in most cases.  My son took public transportation from Santa Cruz to the Amtrak station in San Jose, but got an Uber ride from the Santa Barbara station to UCSB, to save hauling his luggage to the bus station there.

(Note: Greyhound is often cheaper and faster than Amtrak, but it is a lot less comfortable. BoltBus and other private bus services might also be worth checking.)

Seattle, WA

University of Washington is 35–55 minutes from SEA; Seattle University is 25–35 minutes; Antioch University Seattle, 19–22 minutes;

Tacoma, WA

University of Washington, Tacoma is 10 minutes from TAC; University of Puget Sound, 47 minutes

Olympia-Lacey, WA

The Evergreen State College is 1:24–1:40 from OLW.

Centralia, WA

Kelso-Longview, WA

Vancouver, WA

Washington State University Vancouver is 1:06–1:27 from VAN.

Portland, OR

Reed College, 15 minutes from PDX; Concordia University, 28 minutes; Multnomah University, 34–38 minutes; University of Portland, 13 minutes; University of Western States, 1:04–1:07; Lewis and Clarke College, 1:04–1:08; Pacific University, Forest Grove, 1:37–1:50.

Salem, OR

Willamette University, 6 minutes from SLM (10 minutes on foot);Western Oregon University, 0:58–1:40; Corban University, 57 minutes; Northwest University Salem, 0:49–1:30; George Fox University: Salem 0:44–1:26.

Albany, OR

Oregon State University, 0:33–1:38 from ALY.

Eugene-Springfield, OR

University of Oregon, 23 minutes from EUG, 31 minutes walking.

Chemult, OR

Klamath Falls, OR

Oregon Institute of Technology, 21–25 minutes from KFS; Southern Oregon University (Ashland) 2:44.

Dunsmuir, CA (Mt. Shasta)

Redding, CA

Chico, CA

CSU Chico, 13 minutes from CIC.

Sacramento, CA

CSU Sacramento, 37–41 minutes from SAC.

Davis, CA

UC Davis 27–33 minutes from DAV.

Martinez, CA

Cal Maritime, 1:27–2:30 from MTZ

Emeryville, CA

(Although Emeryville is closer to UCB than Oakland is, transit is better from Oakland.)

Oakland, CA–Jack London Square

UCB 37–59 minutes from OKJ; Mills College, 47–55 minutes; SFSU 0:56–1:03; CSU East Bay (Concord) 1:30

San Jose, CA (Caltrain)

San Jose State 11–14 minutes from SJC; Santa Clara University, 7–26 minutes; Stanford, 0:46–1:27; UCSC, 1:34–1:55

Salinas, CA

CSU Monterey Bay, 23 minutes from SNS.

Paso Robles, CA

San Luis Obispo, CA (Morro Bay)

Cal Poly, 17–24 minutes from SLO.

Santa Barbara, CA

UCSB, 41–55 minutes from SBA.

Oxnard, CA

CSU Channel Islands is nearby (11 miles), but Google Maps can’t find any public transit—the Vista bus is 25 minutes (perhaps Google Maps is missing the VCTC transit information).

Simi Valley, CA

CSU Northridge, 44–56 minutes from SIM.

Van Nuys, CA–Amtrak Station

CSU Northridge, 42–44 minutes from VNC; American Jewish University 0:55–1:09; Pepperdine 2:00–3:00

Burbank-Bob Hope Airport, CA

Woodbury University, 22–35 minutes from BUR;

Los Angeles, CA

Cal State LA, 19–31 minutes from LAX; Caltech 48–60 minutes; CSU Dominguez Hills 1:03–1:09; CSU Fullerton 1:06–1:15; UCLA 1:14–1:45; Claremont Colleges (Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Scripps, Pitzer, …) 1:20–2:00; CSU Long Beach 1:41–2:07; Cal Poly Pomona 1:47–2:06

2016 September 4

The Great Mistake by Christopher Newfield

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:42
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Johns Hopkins University Press has announced pre-orders for Chris Newfield’s new book, The Great Mistake:

The Great Mistake

How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them

Christopher Newfield

In The Great Mistake, Newfield asks how we can fix higher education, given the damage done by private-sector models. The current accepted wisdom—that to succeed, universities should be more like businesses—is dead wrong. Newfield combines firsthand experience with expert analysis to show that private funding and private-sector methods cannot replace public funding or improve efficiency, arguing that business-minded practices have increased costs and gravely damaged the university’s value to society.

The book should ship in October 2016.

I’ve been reading his blog Remaking the University for quite some time, and I’ve found that he has intelligent things to say about how public universities are funded. I’m not sure I’d want to read a 448-page book on the subject with very few illustrations (2 halftones, 33 charts), but people who are interested in what has happened to make public universities so unaffordable in the past decade or two should read at least some of his writing.

2016 January 1

Student-to-university-employee ratio

Although many universities and summary websites collect student-to-faculty ratios (with “faculty” variously defined), it is hard to find student-to-employee ratios. Total student enrollment is fairly easy to find, and total number of employees not too hard to find for public universities, so one can compute ratios, as I have done for a small number of schools.  I’ve not been particularly careful about definitions (like whether headcount or full-time equivalent numbers were used for either student enrollment or employment, nor how student employees are counted), so these numbers should be taken as only roughly indicative and not suitable for direct comparison.

Note: I’ve seen lots of summaries of the growth of administration (variously defined) relative to faculty, but not much about total number of employees.

In 2015, University of California had about 195,000 employees [] and about 238,000 students [], for a ratio of only 1.2 students per employee.  Note: postdocs are counted as staff, which is correct for the ways postdocs are used at UC, but if one pretended that they were students the ratio could go as high as 1.8 students per employee (actual numbers of postdocs are hard to come by, but the “other academic (postdocs, etc.)” is given as 42,700).

Similarly, University of Michigan had 43,651 students [] and 45,397 employees [], for 0.96 students per employee.

In contrast,  in Fall 2014, California State University (a non-research university) had about 47,417 employees [] and 460,200 students [] for  ratio of 9.7 students per employee. Michigan State University (a research university without a med school) had about 3.3 students per University employee [Student to University Employee Ratio | Michigan State University].

The California Community Colleges had about 1,555,500 students in Spring 2015 [] and 28016.5 full-time equivalents in Fall 2014 [] for 55.5 students per employee.

I suspect that the biggest differences in student-to-employee ratios come from the research/teaching distinction (there are a lot of employees involved in running a research operation), and the biggest differences among research universities come from how large a part of the university budget is dedicated to medical schools, as they have huge numbers of employees and tiny numbers of students.  (UCSF has 22,500 employees and  4,560 students+residents [] for 0.2 students/employee.)

I’m not an economist nor social scientist, so digging up the necessary numbers and doing the appropriate statistical tests to validate this guess is too much bother for me, but I would be interested in reading someone else’s carefully done summary of university employment patterns, particularly for public universities.  Anyone know a good source?




2011 May 16

Campaign for the Future of Higher Education press conference

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:31
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The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education is a “new grassroots national campaign to support quality higher education. … to ensure that affordable quality higher education is accessible to all sectors of our society in the coming decades.”

They are having their first press conference tomorrow (17 May 2011) at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

Watch the webcast at:

1 pm Eastern • Noon Central • 11 am Mountain • 10 am Pacific

May 17, 2011

They have identified 7 core principles, which I blogged about when they first announced the organization:

  1. Higher Education in the 21st Century must be inclusive; it should be available to and affordable for all who can benefit from and want a college education.  
  2. The curriculum for a quality 21st Century higher education must be broad and diverse.  
  3. Quality higher education in the 21st Century will require a sufficient investment in excellent faculty who have the academic freedom, terms of employment, and institutional support needed to do state-of-the-art professional work.  
  4. Quality higher education in the 21st century should incorporate technology in ways that expand opportunity and maintain quality.  
  5. Quality education in the 21st Century will require the pursuit of real efficiencies and the avoidance of false economies.
  6. Quality higher education in the 21st Century will require substantially more public investment over current levels.
  7. Quality higher education in the 21st century cannot be measured by a standardized, simplistic set of metrics.

These goals are reasonable ones, and the further explanation of the goals is helpful in clarifying them.  My opinion has not changed since my previous post: these are pro-technology, pro-diversity goals, but (other than trying to keep public funding alive) they have identified no strategy for attaining them.  I wish them success, and when they have identified some specific actions that I can reasonably take as a professor at a public university, I’ll be interested in hearing about them.

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