Higher Education and California’s Next Governor

Topics: Affordability, Degree Attainment, Governance, Race and Ethnicity

As California’s election year kicks into high gear with the Latino Community Foundation’s Gubernatorial Forum this evening, we at California Competes are paying close attention to how the candidates for the state’s top office plan to approach the key topic of higher education. California’s higher education system is critical to bolstering the economy and creating job opportunities, issues that consistently rank as top priorities for California’s voters. (A November 2017 PPIC poll found that half of likely voters feel major changes are necessary in California’s higher education system.)

Without a statewide entity to coordinate efforts across California Community Colleges, CSU, UC, and private institutions, the state’s executive office plays an instrumental role in higher education in California.

Our new governor will need to address many pressing issues, such as:

Economic Competitiveness


  • Given uncertainty at the federal level, how will our next state leader address access to college and workforce opportunities for California’s Dreamers?
  • College completion rates in California are slowly improving, but there are still millions of adults in California who have earned some college credits but left the system without earning a degree. What can our executive office do to support more Californians in completing their postsecondary education?
  • Black and Latino men trail Black and Latina women in high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion. How can the next governor help improve outcomes for young men of color?

Access & Affordability

  • We know that more students are qualified to attend a UC or CSU than the institutions have capacity to hold. How can the next governor address unmet student demand when colleges are maxed out on enrollment?
  • Rising housing costs are a critical issue for all Californians, and as a result, housing insecurity is a key challenge for college students. How will our new governor impact college affordability by addressing housing costs?

We look forward to hearing from the candidates on these issues and more at tonight’s event and in the months to come.