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California Competes cited in Mercury News Op-Ed on CA Master Plan for Higher Education

“By 2025, California Competes estimates that our higher education system will need to produce an additional 2.4 million bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, and industry-relevant credentials above current projections for the state to remain a leader within the United States and be competitive on the global stage.” California Competes was pleased to support the California State […]


We promise kids they can get a public college education if they work hard. Are we lying?

This Op-Ed originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee on November 16, 2017.  By Ted Lempert and Lenny Mendonca California’s higher education system is about to be hit by a tidal wave of new students, and we have failed to prepare for the influx into our public colleges and universities. In April, state Superintendent of Public […]


California colleges are turning away students. It’s time to rethink funding for UC and CSU

This Op-Ed originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee, September 26, 2017 By Russell S. Gould and Elizabeth Hill Thanks to our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, when we were growing up in California we knew that if we did the work in high school there was a place for us in the University of California or the […]


Lande Ajose testifies at Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan hearing


On Wednesday November 1, 2017, Dr. Ajose testified at the second of five hearings convened by the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California. She discussed the state’s looming 2.4 million degree gap and its implications for a thriving California workforce. Read Dr. Ajose’s testimony here. View Dr. Ajose’s presentation here. Read […]


College access: Tuition only part of story

“If our goal is to ensure that all California students now and in the future have access to an affordable, quality college education, then our public policy makers and higher education leaders must build a shared vision of this issue and find practical ways to solve it. We know that this is a long-term problem that will require a multiyear solution, but we also must realize that we have no time to waste.”

— An Op-Ed by Julia I. Lopez and Mike Roos


Report Finds Degree Gap in California Has Grown to 2.4 Million by 2025

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“California is in trouble” said Lande Ajose, Director of California Competes. “When the master plan was enacted, the state made a promise to ‘guarantee educational access for all.’ While students may have access, that access is not translating into equitable outcomes. That has implications not only for the state’s long term economic prospects but also for creating a coherent social fabric. You can’t have strong and vibrant democracy when you have disparate higher education outcomes whose results reinforce broader social inequalities.”

Click image to view our digital report.


Update: Innovation Awards distributed to Winning Institutions


On Monday, April 27th, the Committee on Awards for Innovation in Higher Education had its final meeting where the members unanimously approved the expenditure plans for the 14 winning colleges, which includes 1 UC, 7 CSUs and 6 community colleges.[1] (Photos below.) By way of keeping the process transparent, the Department of Finance provided…


Adding Seats Where Access Is Needed Most

Last year’s state budget called for a revised approach to distributing new growth in California’s community colleges. Designed to address problems in the old formula, the new legislation bases funding for growth on two main factors: (1) unmet need within the geographic boundaries of a district, and (2) the effectiveness of a district’s colleges in […]


Prize Money for California Colleges to Think Different(ly)

#CA -logo

California is putting up $50 million in prize money for creative ideas aimed at improving transfer and increasing bachelor degree attainment at the state’s public universities and community colleges. To prompt discussion of possible innovations and to encourage colleges to use this opportunity to think creatively, on Facebook and Twitter we will be sharing a wide variety of ideas.

Issues: More College Degrees

Update: Charting a Course for Coordination, Oversight and Accountability

There has been some movement in our efforts to promote greater statewide coordination as envisioned in The Road Ahead when AB 1348, sponsored by Speaker Emeritus Pérez, cleared the Senate Education Committee on a bipartisan 6-0 vote on June 25. The bill would replace the defunded California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) and create an oversight […]

Issues: Higher Education Investment Board

Update: Educating Julio and Unmet Need

Incentives for community colleges to reach out to the poor, and to serve them well. Our report, Educating Julio, explained how the community college system selects the students who will be served not only by which districts are allowed to grow their enrollment, but also by which courses and programs the colleges decide to offer, […]

Issues: More College Degrees

Making Accreditation Documents Publicly Available

States and the federal government rely heavily on accrediting agencies to make judgments about whether colleges and universities have the appropriate expertise, resources, and systems to provide quality educational programs. Institutions gain access to billions of dollars in state and federal funding by virtue of securing and maintaining accreditation. The public’s ability to monitor the […]

Issues: Accreditation

Contemplating College Affordability

Few question the critical role that college affordability plays in promoting or inhibiting college access and success. Whether a student’s college choice is affordable can make the difference between whether the student attends or not, and whether he or she completes. To try to make the concept of affordability more concrete, we have built a calculator that provides students with useful (even if not simple) information about the affordability of their college choices, incorporating as many factors as we could.

Issues: More College Degrees

Educating Julio: Identifying & Addressing Community Colleges' 'Unmet Need'

Educating Julio

Our report, Educating Julio, examines strategies for growing our community college enrollment and describes some of the dynamics of community college enrollment that underlie the debate about how “unmet need” should be defined, identified, and addressed.

Issues: More College Degrees

Charting a Course for California's Colleges: State Leadership in Higher Education

Charting a Course

Despite its vast higher education system, California stands out as one of only two states without comprehensive oversight or coordination of higher education. Our new report, “Charting a Course for California’s Colleges: State Leadership in Higher Education,” examines how California and states across the nation guide and coordinate their postsecondary systems, offering lessons for California.

Issues: Higher Education Investment Board

Charles Hatcher discusses persistence and graduation rates for Pell grant recipients at UCs

In an effort to better understand persistence and graduation rates for Pell grant recipients, California Competes has partnered with the University of California’s Office of the President to analyze persistence and completion rates of the 37,461 freshmen who entered the UC system in the fall of 2006.

Issues: More College Degrees

Community College Participation

map preview

California Competes conducted an analysis of where students live and found that many areas of the state that could benefit – where few adults have college degrees – are not being reached. Participation is often low where it should be high. An interactive online map paints the picture, showing community college participation for 1700 zip code areas and allows users to examine community college enrollment by indicators of need.

Issues: More College Degrees

Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing on streamlining transfer in public higher education

Streamlining transfer in public higher education

Today Dr. Ajose testified at the Assembly Higher Education Committee’s hearing on streamlining transfer in public higher education. She discussed the need for more coordinated leadership in higher education, and previewed our upcoming analysis of how community college enrollment varies across the state.

Issues: Higher Education Investment BoardMore College Degrees

Governance that works

CCC governance

While management dysfunction is too common at California’s community colleges, not every college has fallen victim to the confusion created by the state Board of Governors. A number of colleges have instead established shared governance structures that are modeled on successful approaches at other colleges and universities in California and across the country. Here are three examples.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

President Obama should use student feedback as part of college rating system

ACCT conference

Speaking at this week’s Association of Community Colleges Trustees conference in Seattle, Bob Shireman suggested that the federal government consider surveying students directly as part of its plan to provide consumers with better information about colleges…

Issues: More College Degrees

Our college grad map of California shows college degrees by zip code

Bay Area

Take a look at our college degree map of California which shows college attainment numbers across the state and breaks down attainment by zip code area. Based on recent census data, the map shows the proportion of the population 18 years old and above with an associate’s degree or higher.

Issues: More College Degrees

Beyond the headline: Opening up the dialogue about California Community Colleges

WAMO Cover

Read Lande’s blog post looking at Washington Monthly’s article about continuing management dysfunction at California’s community colleges which leaves no one accountable for decision making, and why fixing this dysfunction might not be enough.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Diversity in the Health Care Professions

Read Lande’s blog post which describes how community colleges can play a key role in diversifying the country’s health care professions and raises the question of cost in relation to the for-profit sector’s rapidly growing health degree market.

Issues: More College Degrees

New Metrics for California Higher Education

Governor Brown’s proposed budget in 2013 included the idea of tying increases in funding for the two public four-year university systems to performance targets. Under his original plan, the University of California (UC), with its nine undergraduate campuses and 184,000 students, and the California State University (CSU), with its 23 campuses and 308,000 undergraduates…

Issues: More College Degrees

Governor Brown's Performance Targets for UC and CSU

Gov Brown Performance Targets

Governor Brown’s Department of Finance in April presented the first draft of performance targets for the state’s public four-year universities, tied to budget increases.

Issues: More College Degrees

Examples of decision-making confusion


California’s community colleges are burdened by an only-in-California decision-making structure that thwarts rather than values leadership and collaboration. Here, we’ve launched a series of blog posts about how this broken decision-making structure is undermining higher education in California, and how the problem can be fixed.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Why Arguments Blow Up Instead of Blow Over


There is no surer way to turn two siblings against each other than to tell both of them they are in charge. That truism is the best explanation for the epidemic of dysfunction at community colleges in California, where conflicting laws mean any disagreement can ignite a war.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Looking for a Villain

Unfortunately, things aren’t looking so good for City College of San Francisco (CCSF). The college’s accreditor, frustrated that the college had not been attentive to problems it had been pointing out for years, set a March 15 deadline for CCSF to make the needed changes. Or else. If the college does not submit an adequate […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Stories of Unfortunate Dysfunction

A well-functioning community college is one of the best ways to help students succeed by providing access to degrees and technical credentials that are crucial in today’s economy. But right now, California’s community colleges are burdened by an only-in-California decision-making structure that thwarts rather than values leadership and collaboration. Here, we’ve launched a series of […]

Issues: AccreditationLocal Community College Governance

San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed on CCSF governance

Read Bob Shireman’s latest op-ed on CCSF’s continuing struggle to make the changes it needs to keep its accreditation and stay open in the face of a looming deadline. Read the op-ed

Issues: Local Community College Governance

At California Community Colleges, 10+1>11

Ask faculty members in an academic senate what is the most important legislation in California community college history, and they will answer with no hesitation: AB 1725, enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor George Deukmejian in 1988. In their eyes, the bill gave them the right to establish policies on a list of […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

We respond to Chancellor Harris' refusal to address broken decision-making at California Community Colleges

California Competes Response to CCC Refusal

On December 12, 2012, California Competes filed L.C. 1 – a legal challenge with the California Community College (CCC) Board of Governors seeking to repair the broken decision-making process at the 112 local colleges in the system.  The challenge sought to clarify that locally-elected community college trustees are ultimately responsible for the operation of the […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

‘Faculty Primacy’ at the Expense of Student Success

Upon the occasion of his retirement in 2007, a City College of San Francisco vice chancellor was honored in a resolution enacted unanimously by the academic senate. The proclamation commended him for his 25 years of outstanding service as an instructor. It also chronicled his “achievements that helped reshape City College and prepare it for […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

The Missing Signature at Modesto Junior College

The signature page of the new governance handbook at Modesto Junior College tells the whole story. Engaging All Voices, which lays out a process for ensuring broad input into major policy decisions at the college, is signed by the student government representative; it is signed by the staff council and by the heads of two […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Only in California: The Academic Senate Filibuster

The Academic Senate at El Camino College, near Los Angeles, couldn’t take feeling slighted any longer. Over the objections of the Senate, the community college’s vice president had eliminated the study-abroad program to address budget shortfalls. He’d also cut out winter session online classes. To add insult to injury, some of the snubs had no […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

California Competes files a legal challenge that will help improve California Community Colleges

California Competes filed a legal challenge with the California Community College (CCC) Board of Governors asserting that the regulations that provide veto power to academic senates are invalid, illegal and should be reversed. Our legal challenge calls for CCCs to repair the broken decision-making system in California’s community colleges by restoring a clear line of […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

How the academic senate can help save CCSF

Bob Shireman addressed the CCSF faculty to urge them to make it possible to hold trustees fully accountable. His statement shows that the regulations that grant veto power to academic senates: plainly conflict with AB 1725 and other provisions of law; are contrary to accreditor and professional standards; disempower students, staff and the community; disenfranchise […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Flowchart: how decisions are made (and not made) at California community colleges

In a San Francisco Chronicle commentary, Bob Shireman explains how an obscure rule adopted 22 years ago leads to community colleges that too often cannot adapt to reduced budgets and to the changing needs of the state.  The flowchart below gives a detailed look at the mandated faculty primacy process the state currently imposes on […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Bob Shireman testifies at Little Hoover Commission hearing on the re-imagining of California's system of higher education

August 28, 2012 Bob Shireman laid out California Competes’ recommendations around enhancing accountability and creating a Higher Education Investment Board at the Little Hoover Commission’s public hearing on the issues facing California’s higher education system. Read Bob Shireman’s testimony

Issues: Higher Education Investment BoardLocal Community College Governance

CSAC responds to “The Road Ahead”

In a letter to California Competes, Executive Director Diana Fuentes-Michel of the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) mentioned that CSAC is aligned with many of the California Competes report’s core priorities but believes that some of the implementation, as proposed, is flawed.

Read CSAC’s full letter

Issues: More College Degrees

The Road Ahead:
Higher education, California's promise, and our future economy


California Competes is pleased to share with you our new report, The Road Ahead: Higher education, California’s promise, and our future economy

Download the Full Report (pdf)

Executive Summary (pdf)

Issues: More College Degrees

Bob Shireman pushes for quality at California Student Aid Commission public hearing

Shireman CSAC Testimony

February 23, 2012 The California Student Aid Commission held a public hearing on whether their grants should cover all colleges’ online degree programs. In Shireman’s testimony, he makes the case that the Commission should be concerned about quality at all types of colleges, not just in online programs. See his full tesimony here

Issues: More College Degrees

Lande Ajose discusses the “new normal” at a joint legislative hearing on higher education

February 1, 2012 At a time when California needs to make choices about its priorities, Lande points to some of the steps that must be taken to ensure that our institutions of higher education are improving their effectiveness. See her written public comment here See a video of her public comment here

Issues: More College Degrees

Regional Jobs & Education Data


These presentations provide region-by-region information on adult educational attainment, earnings and growth by occupation and educational background, and the characteristics of the education pipeline.     All files are in powerpoint (.ppt) format. Bay Area Central Coast Central Sierra Inland Empire Los Angeles Northern California Orange County Sacramento Tahoe San Diego Imperial County San Joaquin […]

Issues: More College Degrees