This op-ed was written by California Competes Council Member Steven Koblik and originally appeared in the Capitol Weekly on December 14, 2017.

How can the state of California make intelligent public policy on higher education when it does not have the data to do so? This simple question underscores every governor and legislator’s dilemma when they annually establish funding levels for California's postsecondary education system. There is no integrated statewide database for higher education. 

 Its absence is partially understandable. California's Master Plan for Higher Education invested in a three-tiered system of postsecondary institutions: the community colleges; the California State University; and the University of California. Each segment collected and stored its own data and shared it with policymakers to the extent that each segment wanted to. As long as the system flourished and the state had abundant fiscal resources, the need for an integrated approach was not apparent. 

The reality of the three tiers has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades.  Dividing lines between the three blurred, as the focus on transfer from two-year to four-year institutions deepened and as institutions expanded the types of programs they offer. The state could not meet their financial needs. Huge numbers of Californians were not given the opportunities for postsecondary education that they need to compete for jobs. Businesses struggles to find properly trained employees. Current research shows that by 2025—just eight years from now—California will require 2.4 million more workers with some form of postsecondary education than it is on track to produce. 

Read more here.