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CSU Faculty: State Budget Means Too Many Students Are Turned Away

A student walks by Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union at San Diego State Unive...

Photo by MILAN KOVACEVIC

Above: A student walks by Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union at San Diego State University, Sept. 24, 2016.

In 2017, San Diego State University had to turn away about 90 percent of its undergraduate applicants. Across the California State University system, 31,000 students who qualified for a spot didn’t get one.

That’s why CSU administrators and the system’s faculty union are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to offer more in his May budget revision.

His proposal this month would up spending on higher education by three percent, adding about $92 million from the general fund to the CSU budget — less than a third of what Chancellor Timothy White requested and about a fifth of what the California Faculty Association union would like to see.

Charles Toombs is vice president of the CFA and chairs the Africana Studies Department at San Diego State. He said his union’s ask of more than $400 million to add 18,000 slots for students statewide is about providing access for the state’s high school graduates, who are now predominantly students of color.

“Those are the students we’re turning away now,” Toombs said. “There are a lot of, particularly local area students who are qualified — they’ve met all of the requirements for admission to San Diego State — and they’re not getting in.”

RELATED: San Diego Universities Look To Expand Amid Growing Student Interest

Chancellor White called the proposal “concerning.”

“CSU enrollment and student achievement have reached all-time highs as the university graduates an ever-greater number of students at a lower cost to California,” he said in a statement. “This budget proposal could reverse any progress made in the last decade – diminishing student access, success, limiting degree attainment and depriving California’s industries of skilled professionals.”

Brown has been critical of administrative spending and tuition hikes at the state’s public universities. His budget could be a bargaining chip as both the CSU and University of California consider tuition increases again this spring.

Meanwhile, the state and CSU are looking to widen the admissions bottleneck in other ways. The CSU is working to add space by reducing the amount of time it takes students to graduate — an effort the governor supports with his current budget proposal. And under a provision in the current state budget, administrators are writing policies that would direct qualified applicants to other, less crowded campuses if they don’t get into their campus of choice and give admissions priority to local students who apply to impacted programs.

San Diego State eliminated across-the-board guaranteed admissions for locals in 2010. It does, however, offer guarantees to targeted groups of students such as graduates from Sweetwater Unified and nearby Hoover High School.

RELATED: San Diego Community Colleges Could Parlay Free Year Of College Into Two

The UC system would receive a similar general fund increase. President Janet Napolitano offered a more reserved response than White, requesting funding to add 500 undergraduate and 500 graduate students. The system has already identified funding for 1,500 new admits.

“The state budget process has just begun," she and Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer said in a statement. "We hope to continue conversations with the governor and the Legislature to ensure expanded access for fall 2018."

In 2017, San Diego State University had to turn away about 90 percent of its undergraduate applicants.

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