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John Aubrey Douglass

Senior Research Fellow, Center for Studies in Higher Education

John Aubrey Douglass


John Aubrey Douglass is Senior Research Fellow - Public Policy and Higher Education at the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of the book, The New Flagship University: Changing the Paradigm from Global Ranking to National Relevancy (Palgrave Macmillan), The Conditions for Admissions (Stanford Press 2007), The California Idea and American Higher Education (Stanford University Press, 2000; published in Chinese in 2008), and with Jud King and Irwin Feller (ed) Globalization’s Muse: Universities and Higher Education Systems in a Changing World (Public Policy Press, 2009).

Among the research projects he co-founded is the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium – a group of major research universities in the US and internationally, with members in China, Brazil, South Africa, the Netherlands and Russia. He is also the editor of the Center's Research and Occasional Paper Series (ROPS), sits on the editorial board of international higher education journals in the UK, China, and Russia, and serves on the international advisory boards of a number of higher education institutes.

He has been a Visiting Professor at Amsterdam University College (a unit of the University of Amsterdam and Vrije University of Amsterdam), at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil), at Sciences Po (Paris) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (OxCHEPS).

Scholarly publications include articles in Higher Education, the European Journal of Education Higher Education Quarterly, the Journal of California Politics and Policy, Higher Education Policy and Management (OECD), Higher Education Policy (journal of the IAU), BOOM (a journal on California politics and culture), Perspectives (UK), Change Magazine, California Monthly, Minerva,The Journal of Policy History, History of Education Quarterly, and The American Behavioral Scientists.

Current research interests are focused on comparative international higher education, including the influence of globalization, the role of universities in economic development, science policy as a component of national and multinational economic policy, strategic issues related to developing mass higher education, and studies related the SERU Consortium survey data that assesses the student experience in major research universities.

He also serves as a consultant on issues related to institutional strategic planning, access and academic program quality assurance. Prior to coming to CSHE and Berkeley, he served as the chief policy analyst for the University of California's Systemwide Academic Senate and held teaching and research positions at the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.

Areas of Expertise

  • Higher Education
  • Economic Policy
  • International
  • Science Policy

Last updated on 09/20/2017

Selected Publications

  • CALIFORNIA’S AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FIGHT: Power Politics and the University of California

    This essay discusses the contentious events leading to the decision by the University of California’s Board of Regents to end affirmative action in admissions, hiring and contracting at the university in July 1995. This controversial decision provided momentum for California’s passage of Proposition 209 the following year ending “racial preferences” for all of the state’s public agencies. In virtually any other state, the debate over university admissions would have bled beyond the confines of a university’s governing board. The board would have deferred to lawmakers and an even more complicated public discourse. The University of California’s unusual status as a “public trust” under the state constitution, however, meant that authority over admissions was the sole responsibility of the board. This provided a unique forum to debate affirmative action for key actors, including Regent Ward Connerly and Governor Pete Wilson, to persuade fellow regents to focus and decide on a hotly debated social issue related to the dispersal of a highly sought public good – access to a selective public university. Two themes are explored. The first focuses on the debate within the university community and the vulnerability of existing affirmative action programs and policies - including a lack of unanimity among the faculty regarding the use of racial preferences. The second relates to the political tactics employed by Connerly and the saliency of his arguments, which were addressed to a larger public, and not to the academic community. Connerly attacked not only the idea of affirmative action but also the coherency of the university’s existing admissions programs, the effectiveness of using race in admissions decisions, and the credibility of the university’s administrative leaders who defended affirmative action.

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  • THE RISE OF THE PUBLICS: American Democracy, the Public University Ideal, and the University of California

    In the post-Revolutionary War era, private institutions dominated America’s emerging higher education landscape, all tied to sectarian communities and often with limited forms of public financing. The United States could have sustained that dominance, essentially differing to the private sector in expanding access, and delaying the “rise of the publics.” This did not happen. A major turning point came in the mid-1800s. Private colleges seemed incapable or simply not interested in serving the broader needs of American society. Institutions such as the University of Virginia, and the new state universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, offered the first examples of a new institutional breed. Each was borne out of public debates regarding the purpose of public universities in a new nation, including the initial idea of a federal university. Out of this early period of institution building came important ideas on the potent role of higher education in shaping the American experiment, intimately linked with revolutionary ideas on human abilities and the requirements for creating a functioning, participatory democracy. By the mid-1800, state governments, with federal government prompting, launched a dramatic number of new public universities distinct in their governance, in their commitment to broad access, in the scope of their academic programs, and in their commitment to public service. This essay explores these debates and how they influenced institution building, with a focus on the establishment of the University of California by an act of the California legislature – the 1868 Organic Act. In its stated purpose, governance, and planned academic and professional programs, California’s Land-Grant University embodied all the elements of this new breed of public universities with the intent of shaping a progressive society.

    This year the University of California celebrates its 150 anniversary since establishment in 1868.  This ROPS contribution is part of a series published this year by the Center for Studies in Higher Education related to the history of the University of California and, more broadly, America’s unique investment and faith in public universities.

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  • The Role of Universities in Economic Competitiveness in California

    Commissioned by the Associació Catalana d’Universitats Públiques (ACUP), this report provides a case study of the University of California’s (UC) role in helping to create a highly competitive economy and in a manner that may be of use in Catalonia. The report provides a discussion on the role of research universities as important players in larger innovation ecosystems, the economic impact of UC on California, specific examples of university-private sector engagement, and relevant UC policies that set what we call the “rules of engagement” that both encourage economic engagement and protect academic freedom and university autonomy.

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  • AMERICAN​ ​UNIVERSITIES​ ​IN​ ​TRUMPLAND​ ​-​ ​Financial​ ​Ruin​ ​Averted?

    The Trump administration has no significant plan or strategy related to higher education. The only major policy declarations—to eliminate federal regulations on for-profit colleges and revisit federal guidelines on sexual assault on college campuses – both unravel policies developed under the Obama administration. Where the fate of higher education lies is in the innumerable initiatives bent on pleasing Trump’s base and in the search for some sort of major legislative victory. As of this writing, this now includes a Republican coalition that wants to cut the funding for most federal agencies to ease the way for massive tax cuts. In the Trump administration’s initial federal budget proposal presented last May, Trump planned huge reductions in federal programs, with two glaring exceptions: boosting military spending—including for veterans but also for hardware and more troops—and funding for a continent stretching border wall with Mexico. What about the funding future, and health and well-being, of America’s great universities? To make financial room, and to placate some on the right, it is hard to imagine increased or even stable federal spending for research and financial aid. To partially offset tax cuts, spending must come down, at least in a rationale policy world. If this scenario plays out, higher education will be one of many casualties. Then again, confusion regarding the Trump agenda, discord among Republicans, lobbying by the many stakeholders of the current tax system, and even independent analysis of whatever convoluted plan emerges, could derail or significantly alter the tax-cut momentum. Or the thirst for a legislative tax-cut victory might simply temporarily blind Republican deficit hawks. In these scenarios, or a combination, federal funding for academic research and financial aid might only suffer minor cuts, or remain relatively stable – in the short run. For now, muddling through might not be good policymaking, but could be the best one can hope for. For American higher education in the volatile Trump era, disaster averted?

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  • THE EVOLUTION OF FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITIES: From the Traditional to the New

    In the face of the dominant World Class University rhetoric and ranking paradigm, most academic leaders and their academic communities have had difficulty conceptualizing and articulating their grander purpose and multiple engagements with society. Some seem to wait for the next ministerial edict to help or push them toward greater societal relevancy – often limited to improved global rankings. This essay discusses the evolving idea of the Flagship University, its past and future, and the need to develop and articulate a more holistic and modern narrative regarding the role of these important institutions. The New Flagship University is an institution grounded in its historical purpose, but remarkably different in its devotion to access and equity, to the quality of its teaching, research and public services mission, and to meeting national and regional socioeconomic needs. This paper discusses some of the central themes in the book, The New Flagship University, and includes observations in recent articles by scholars and researchers on their relevancy in various parts of the world. Leading national or Flagship Universities are now more important for socioeconomic mobility, for knowledge production, for generating economic and civic leaders, and for pushing innovation and societal self-reflection than in any other time in their history. 

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  • KNOWLEDGE BASED ECONOMIC AREAS AND FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITIES: A Look at the New Growth Ecosystems in the US and California

    The acceptance of new growth theory relates, in part, to a number of highly touted regional success stories – or what I term “Knowledge Based Economic Areas” (KBEAs) in this and past essays. The United States, and California in particular, is viewed as perhaps the most robust creators of KBEAs, providing an influential model that is visited and revisited by business and government leaders, and other Flagship (or leading national) universities, that wish to replicate their strengths within their own cultural and political terms.  While California has a number of unique characteristics, including a robust University of California system with a strong internal academic culture and devotion to public service, the story of its historical and contemporary success as an agent of economic development is closely linked to a number of key contextual factors. These relate to the internal culture, governance and management capacity of major universities in the United States, national investment patterns in R&D, the business environment, including the concentration of Knowledge Based Businesses, the acceptance of risk, and the availability of venture capital, legal variables related to Intellectual Property (IP) and tax policies, the quality of regional workforces, and quality of life factors that are important components for attracting and retaining talent. In most of these KBEAs variables, California has enjoyed an advantage that helps to partially explain the success of the University of California (UC) and other major research universities as agents of economic development. This study focuses on seven contextual variables common to all KBEAs in the United States and much of the world, and with particular attention to the UC system – a network of ten research-intensive campuses.

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  • College Affordability and the Emergence of Progressive Tuition Models: Are New Financial Aid Policies at Major Public Universities Working?

    In an era of significant disinvestment in public higher education by state governments, many public universities are moving toward a “progressive tuition model” that attempts to invest approximately one-third of tuition income into institutional financial aid for lower-income and middle-class students. The objective is to mitigate the cost of tuition and keep college affordable. But is this model as currently formulated working? What levels of financial stress are students of all income groups experiencing? And are they changing their behaviors? Utilizing data from the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Survey of undergraduates and other data sources, this study explores these issues by focusing on students at the University of California and ten AAU institutions that are members of the SERU Consortium. At least to date, the increase in tuition, and costs related to housing and other living expenses, have not had a negative impact on the number of lower-income students attending UC. Reflecting to some degree UC’s robust financial aid policies, and perhaps the growing number of lower-income families in California, there has been an actual increase in their number – a counterintuitive finding to the general perception that higher tuition equals less access to the economically vulnerable. At the same time, there is evidence of a “middle-class” squeeze, with a marginal drop in the number of students from this economic class. Students’ concerns for paying for higher education and accumulated student debt in the 2014 SERU are predictably higher among lower-income students, yet upper-middle income students (with annual family incomes from $80–125,000) are the least likely to agree that the cost of attendance is manageable. With these and other nuances and caveats briefly discussed in this study, the progressive tuition model appears to be working in terms of affordability and with only moderate indicators of increased financial stress and changed student behaviors. These results are not necessarily predictive of the future if tuition rates go up further. But they do indicate the higher tuition rates at highly selective public universities, if accompanied by robust federal, state and institutional financial aid, may be the best path for maintaining access to lower-income students, and for generating income needed for institutions to maintain or improve student-to-faculty ratios and other markers of quality. Freezing tuition, as currently demanded by state lawmakers in California, does not appear to be based on any clear analysis of the correlation of tuition and affordability. It appears more as a politically attractive way to appeal to voters while ignoring the financial consequences for public colleges and universities and the quality of the student experience.

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    The University of California became a “public trust” in 1879 as part of a larger revision of California’s Constitution approved by California voters. The University henceforth gained the exclusive power to operate, control, and administer the University of California, becoming virtually a fourth branch of state government, a “constitutional corporation . . . equal and coordinate with the legislature, the judiciary and the executive. It was a watershed moment in the history of California’s land-grant public university, fundamentally shaping the state’s subsequent development of the nations, and the world’s, first coherent approach to building a mass higher education system. Status as a public trust set UC on a spectacular course, helping it to create an internal academic culture and drive to meet the socioeconomic needs of the state relatively free of the often contentious political interventions found in many other states. UC emerged as one of the most productive and prestigious university systems in the world. Yet over the past six or so decades, the unusual status of the university’s governing board has been on occasions a source of frustration for lawmakers who have wanted to be more directly involved in controlling and formulating university policy, from admissions practices and tuition, to how funds are raised and spent, what academic programs UC should or should not provide, and proposals to revise the membership and authority of the Regents. The following provides an historical account of how and why the University of California gained this unusual level of autonomy. In essence, and in the context of 1870s California, delegates to the state’s second and last constitutional convention in 1878 heard the complaints of UC’s president Daniel Coit Gilman shortly before he left in frustration to become the head of Johns Hopkins University, and chose to protect it from further “legislative control and popular clamor.” Ultimately, the delegates and the voters chose the university’s lay board with a representative mix of Californians and lawmakers, the Regents, over the legislature as the best way to organize and promote UC.

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  • Bring the World to California: A Global Hub for Higher Education

    This article argues that California colleges and universities should make a concerted effort to work together to attract more foreign students by forming education hubs. The authors argue that such “EdHubs” can relieve the intense pressure on schools’ budgets by enrolling more higher-paying out-of-state students, while schools in the same geographic regions can share the burden of supporting such students, particularly with investment from local industry. The authors argue that schools that work together can increase their capacity to educate more students, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, thereby increasing opportunities not just for foreign students but Californians as well.

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  • INTERNATIONAL BERKELEY: Enrolling International Students Yesterday and Today, Debates on the Benefits of Multicultural Diversity, and Macro Questions on Access and Equity

    The argument that cultural and other forms of diversity enhance the educational experience of all students is generally associated largely with post-1960 efforts to expand the presence of disadvantaged groups on the campuses of America’s universities and colleges. Yet, in the case of UC Berkeley, debates on the merits of cultural diversity have much earlier roots in the historical enrollment of international students. Debates in the late 1800s and early twentieth century revolved around the appropriateness of enrolling foreign students, particularly those from Asia. The result was an important intellectual discussion on the merits of diversity that was eventually reframed to focus largely on underrepresented domestic students. In this short essay, I discuss how the notion of diversity, and its educational benefits, first emerged as a value at UC Berkeley. I then briefly discuss the significant increase of international students at UC Berkeley and other public universities. Thus far, the primary impetus of this increase has been mostly financial—Berkeley has faced significant public disinvestment, seeks new revenue sources, and can charge international students tuition rates similar to elite private colleges and universities. By targeting 20 percent of all undergraduates as international or out-of-state (US-resident non-Californians)—the majority international—the Berkeley campus is essentially diversifying its student body. How does having more globally inclusive enrollment fit into our contemporary ideas of diversity? I attempt a brief discussion of this question and the policy challenges generated by the dramatic increase in international students at the undergraduate level at Berkeley and other UC campuses, including access for Californians.

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  • TO GROW OR NOT TO GROW? A Post-Great Recession Synopsis of the Political, Financial, and Social Contract Challenges Facing the University of California

    After more than two decades of state disinvestment, the University of California faces significant challenges and misunderstandings regarding its operating costs, its wide array of activities, and its mission. Reduced funding from the state for public higher education, including UC, has essentially severed the historic link between state allocations and enrollment, altering the incentive and ability for UC to expand academic programs and enrollment in pace with California’s growing population. “To grow or not to grow?,” that is the question. This macro management and major modification in UC’s historical social contract with the people of California confronts the new president, Janet Napolitano, and, more generally, the UC academic community and Californians. On the positive side, there are signs of an improved economy as well as a governor and legislature dealing with fundamental budget issues, such as better controlling public pensions and reducing exorbitant incarceration rates. If California, under a revised Master Plan, floats toward an attempt to recreate a suitable funding and organizational model for public higher education, Napolitano is potentially a powerful political figure who could help drive it to a successful conclusion. To truly reach a solution, public leaders will need to work with lawmakers, not the other way around.

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    Bolstered by the recommendations of the 1998 Boyer Report, US federal agencies have put significant resources into promoting opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research. American universities and colleges have been creating support programs and curricular opportunities intended to create a “culture of undergraduate research.” Yet our knowledge about the commonality of undergraduate research engagement—how it integrates into the educational experience, and its benefits or lack thereof—is still very limited. Universities exude the ideal of a pivotal link of teaching and research. We have assumed that personal interactions between active scholars and undergraduates—via traditional curriculum, research courses, working in a lab or doing fieldwork—have positive influences on students’ maturation and their overall academic and social experience. The following exploratory study looks at data generated by the 2010 Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) undergraduate survey, an online census administered at fifteen major research-intensive universities. Among this specific case study of mostly AAU campuses, there is evidence that undergraduate research engagement outside of the traditional classroom is a relatively common experience. Further, this research engagement leads to self-reported learning gains across many areas, but especially in the areas of field knowledge, how to present and communicate knowledge, research skills, higher levels of satisfaction about educational experiences, better use of time, and higher levels of non-quantitative skills. Yet not all research activities are created equally. This study identified two different types of research: those research activities that mainly involve assisting faculty research, and those that mainly involve conducting independent personal research. The former is more prevalent in STEM fields, while the latter is more likely in the humanities, social sciences, and in professional majors. Further, lower-division students also tend to participate in assisting faculty research more often than their upper-division peers, who are more likely to engage in independent research. As part of the ongoing SERU research agenda, we hope to generate a more extensive analysis of SERU data and other data sources. We suggest that SERU campuses consider amending their current curricular requirements based on the following recommendations resulting from this investigation: 1. use the SERU database to provide regular reports on undergraduate research engagement, and include those reports in Academic Program/Department reviews; 2. expand existing efforts so that most, if not all, undergraduates have the opportunity for two or more non-classroom forms of research engagement, perhaps depending on the field of the major and discipline.

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  • Here’s How Janet Napolitano Rescues the University of California

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  • Why are research universities going global?

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  • AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, THE FISHER CASE, AND THE SUPREME COURT: What the Justices and the Public Need to Know

    Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide on the contentious issue of Affirmative Action, and specifically the use of race in admissions decisions in public universities. Despite differences in the details, seasoned veterans of affirmative action debates are experiencing déjà vu. In this case, Abigail Noel Fisher claims overt racial discrimination when the highly selective University of Texas at Austin (UT) rejected her freshman application in 2008. The Court’s ruling could range from upholding the legal precedent of allowing race to be one of many factors in admissions; to a more narrow decision that rejects UT’s particular use of race, but sets new limits on such decisions; to an outright rejection of using race in any form as one among many factors universities currently use in admissions. In this paper, I discuss the case and present a number of themes that should be considered by the Court and by the public, including problems with the notion of a “critical mass” of minority students; that arguments regarding academic merit are complex and nuanced; and that among highly selective public universities, where demand from many qualified students far exceeds the supply of admissions spots, admissions policies have arbitrary outcomes despite the best efforts to create rational and explainable admissions policies. As much as anything, the Fisher case is about the appropriate locus of admissions policy and decisions. The historical precedent, as reiterated by Justice Sandra Day O’Conner in the 2003 Grutter case, is that judgments related to the question of admissions, including the idea of sufficient critical mass of underrepresented students and factors that indicate future academic success, are, in the end, judgments that should remain within the Academy and which the courts should not infringe on without a compelling need to do so. There is no compelling need in the Fisher case. Simply agreeing to hear the case seems to indicate a willingness by the Court to overrule past precedent. Yet there is also a possibility that the Court’s decision will be influenced by the prospect that a ruling against affirmative action will, for the first time, have meaning for selective private institutions, which have largely avoided scrutiny of their admissions practices and biases. As all of the justices are products of eastern elite private institutions, this could be an important consideration, although speculative.

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  • COMPREHENDING THE INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES OF UNIVERSITIES: A Taxonomy of Modes of Engagement and Institutional Logics

    The paper examines the behavior of universities at the level of the individual institution to create a taxonomy of actions and logics used to initiate international activities, engagements, and academic programs. The taxonomy is organized utilizing the concepts of activity clusters, modes of engagement, and institutional logics. Its purpose is to provide a framework for future research as well as a tool for scholars and practitioners to better analyze and understand what has become a rush by many universities to become more engaged globally. After a brief discussion of the importance of contextual variables such as academic discipline, academic program level, and the prestige hierarchy, the specific characteristics of the university as a social organization are considered. A central assumption is that the most meaningful and successful change in the university occurs when the decentralized nature of the organization and the significant formal and informal authority of faculty and academic staff is recognized and incorporated into decision processes in real and meaningful ways. The taxonomy of actions and logics is conceptualized as a list of modes of engagement that can be organized into seven clusters of activity. Clusters include individual faculty initiatives; the management of institutional demography; mobility initiatives; curricular and pedagogical change; transnational institutional engagements; network building; and campus culture, ethos, and leadership. Nine institutional logics are described and proposed as possible explanatory variables as to how universities interpret their global environment and justify strategies, policies, and actions they undertake. International and global realities have become a central strategic concern for many universities. The framework offered in this article is intended to help support empirical research on strategies, actions and logics at the institutional level and an on-going research project by the authors.

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  • TALES OF UNIVERSITY DEVOLUTION: Organizational Behavior in the Age of Markets

    In the wake of the Cold War era, America’s research universities became increasingly characterized by a tribal mentality among schools and departments, and disciplines. The surge in research funding, and the tremendous growth rate among the major public universities in particular, fostered the idea of the “multiversity” was becoming less communal, and less aware of the collective purpose. These patterns have accelerated considerably over the past two decades in the US that reflect three relatively new realities or influences: a) within the public university sector, decreasing public subsidies have influenced a movement toward internal management decisions and organizations that have eroded a previous model of revenue sharing (in tuition and fees, in overhead generated by extramural research, for example) to profit, loss, and prestige centers; b) this has been accompanied and reinforced by the concept that there are different market opportunities among different schools, departments, disciplines and their degrees, and hence opportunity costs (in the tuition price of an MBA versus and English PhD, for example) in which high income units should retain and spend those monies. These influences are common in various degrees globally but from different source. In much of the world, including Europe, the demands and edicts of ministries and evolving concepts of faculty as civil servants heavily influence organizational behavior. In the US, the decrease in public investment is driving internal behaviors shaped as well by the interests of faculty, the increasing global nature of knowledge production, and market opportunities that differ among the disciplines. This paper explores the development and impact of these various influences on research intensive universities, with the theme that the internal concept of the university is rapidly changing, influencing the behavior of academic leaders and faculty, the organization of the post-modern university, the flow of funds, and ultimately the perceived and real role of the research university in society. Past observers of the life and times on universities have described aspects of this shift as a movement from a larger sense of a university community among faculty to a tribal mentality. But the current shift extends well the weakening of disciplines and departments, beyond faculty as individual actors to the internal organization of the academy and a relatively new concept of profit and loss centers. This shift toward what I call “University Devolution” or fragmentation is influenced by the external political, social, and economic world. In Europe and elsewhere, neo-liberal ministries wield great power and have helped pushed universities toward this model. In the US, it remains largely a phenomenon influenced by reduced government investment yet ultimately driven by internal decision-making related to privatization – thus far. The paper ends with a brief discussion on whether the organizational behaviors in US research universities are reflective of global trends, or are in some aspects unique.

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  • To Judge International Branch Campuses, We Need to Know Their Goals

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  • The Learning Outcomes Race: the Value of Self-Reported Gains in Large Research Universities

    Throughout the world, measuring “learning outcomes” is viewed by many stakeholders as a relatively new method to judge the “value added” of colleges and universities. The potential to accurately measure learning gains is also a diagnostic tool for institutional self-improvement. This essay discussed the marketisation of learning outcomes tests, and the relative merits of student experience surveys in gauging learning outcomes by analyzing results from the University of California’s Undergraduate Experience Survey (Student Experience in the Research University Survey: SERU-S). The SERU-S includes responses by seniors who entered as freshmen on six educational outcomes self-reports: analytical and critical thinking skills, writing skills, reading and comprehension skills, oral presentation skills, quantitative skills, and skills in a particular field of study. Although self-reported gains are sometimes regarded as having dubious validity compared to so-called “direct measures” of student learning, the analysis of this study reveals the SERU survey design has many advantages, especially in large, complex institutional settings. Without excluding other forms of gauging learning outcomes, we conclude that, designed properly, student surveys offer a valuable and more nuanced alternative in understanding and identifying learning outcomes in the broad tapestry of higher education institutions. We discuss the politics of the learning outcomes race, the validity of standardized tests like the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), and what we can learn from student surveys like SERU-S. We also suggest there is a tension between what meets the accountability desires of governments and the needs of individual universities focused on self-improvement.

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    The search for the Holy Grail to measure learning gains started in the US, but the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) wants to take it global. Here we tell a bit of this story and raise serious questions regarding the validity of the Collegiate Learning Assessment test and suggest there are alternatives. The merit of the CLA as a true assessment of learning outcomes is, we dare say, debatable. In part, the arrival and success of the CLA is a story of markets. In essence, it is a successfully marketed product that is fulfilling a growing demand with few recognized competitors. As a result, the CLA is winning the “learning outcomes race,” essentially becoming the “gold standard” in the US. We worry that the CLA’s early market success is potentially thwarting the development of other valuable and more nuanced alternatives – whether it be other types of standardized tests that attest to measuring the learning curve of students, or other approaches such as student portfolios, contextually designed surveys on the student experience, and alumni feedback. In a new study published in the journal Higher Education, we examine the relative merits of student experience surveys in gauging learning outcomes by analyzing results from the data from the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Survey. This essay discusses some of the main points from that article. There are real problems with student self-assessments. But as we argue here, universities can probably learn more about learning outcomes in a wide range of disciplines via properly designed census surveys than by standardized tests like the CLA. At present, we suggest there is tension between the accountability desires of governments and the needs of individual universities who must focus on institutional self-improvement. One might hope that they would be synonymous. But how to make ministries and other policymakers more fully understand the perils of a silver bullet test tool?

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  • MONEY, POLITICS AND THE RISE OF FOR-PROFIT HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE US:A Story of Supply, Demand and the Brazilian Effect

    For-profit colleges and universities in the US have been growing at a staggering pace in enrollment, in profits, and in the corporate value of those traded on the New York Stock Exchange. From 2000 to 2010, the sector grew by some 235 percent in enrollment, increasing its market share from 3 to 9.1 percent of all tertiary enrolled students. What accounts for this rapid growth in the For-Profit (FP) sector in the US? How will such growth influence educational opportunity and degree attainment rates in a country that first pioneered a mass higher education built largely around expanding public colleges and universities? As discussed in the following essay, there are specific characteristics of the FP sector that are peculiar to the US; others reflect global trends largely seen in developing economies. Simply put, in the US as in other parts of the world, the FP sector is a modern feature of changing market dynamics related to demand and supply – or the lack thereof. As discussed in this essay, the current US experience is a version of what I call the “Brazilian Effect”: when public higher education cannot keep pace with growing public demand for access and programs, governments often allow FP’s to rush in and help fill the gap, becoming a much larger and sometimes dominant provider. This is the pattern in many developing economies such as Brazil where some 50 percent of student enrollment is in profit-like private institutions also found in Korea, Poland and many other parts of the world. Despite concerns about the economic model of For-Profits which rely heavily on taxpayer funds, their low degree completion rates, the quality of those degrees, their high tuition and fee levels, the high levels of debt and poor employment record of graduates, and new federal regulations and a series of lawsuits, my prediction is that the FP sector will continue to grow over the long-term not so much because it meets societal demands for diverse forms of higher education, but because of the inability of the public sector to return to the levels of public subsidies and program growth they had in the past – the Brazilian Effect. The result now, and in the future, is a kind of policy default: the future tertiary market will not be the result of a well thought out policy at the national or state levels, but a quasi-free market result that will foster lower quality providers and fail to meet national goals for increasing the educational attainment level of Americans. As this paper discusses, higher education policy is about broad issues of socioeconomic mobility and economic competitiveness, but it is also about money, big business, and political influence.

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  • A GLOBAL TALENT MAGNET: How a San Francisco/Bay Area Higher Education Hub Could Advance California’s Comparative Advantage In Attracting International Talent and Further Build US Economic Competitiven

    During the 2009-10 academic year international students generated more than $18.8 billion in net income into the US economy. California alone had nearly 100,000 international students with an economic impact of nearly $3.0 billion. In this paper, we outline a strategy for the San Francisco/Bay Area to double the number of international students enrolled in local colleges and universities in ten years or less, generating a total direct economic impact of an additional $1 billion a year into the regional economy. The US retains a huge market advantage for attracting foreign students. Within the US, the San Francisco/Bay Area is particularly attractive and could prevail as an extraordinary global talent magnet, if only policymakers and higher education leaders better understood this and formulated strategies to tap the global demand for higher education. Ultimately, all globalism is local. We propose that the San Francisco/Bay Area, a region with a group of stellar universities and colleges, should re-imagine itself as a Global Higher Education Hub to meet national and regional economic needs, as well as the thirst of a growing world population for high-quality tertiary education. Other parts of the world have already developed their version of the higher education hub idea. The major difference in our proposed Californian version is that foreign competitors seek to attract foreign universities to help build enrollment and program capacity at home, and are funded almost solely by significant government subsidies. Our model builds capacity, but is focused on attracting the world’s talent and generating additional income to existing public and private colleges and universities. Doubling international enrollment from 30,000 to 60,000 students in ten years or less will require expanding regional enrollment capacity as part of a strategy to ensure access to native students, and as part of a scheme to attract a new generation of faculty and researchers to the Bay Area and California. International students would need to pay higher then the full cost of their education, helping to subsidize domestic students and college and university programs. The result would be a San Francisco/Bay Area Global Higher Education Hub – a self-reinforcing knowledge ecosystem that is internationally attractive, socially beneficial, and economically viable. We offer a path for analyzing the feasibility of this Global Higher Education Hub, including the steps necessary to engage the private sector and local government to help create enrollment capacity and academic programs, a discussion of a financial model, possible marketing strategies, and for developing shared facilities and services. This initiative will require most Bay Area colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley and Stanford University, to collaborate. By providing a leadership role, Berkeley and Stanford would help brand the hub idea internationally, provide leadership in shaping direct and indirect economic returns of the SF/Bay area higher education hub, while also gaining from the increased international attractiveness of the region and the use of shared facilities. It is about the money. But it is also about establishing closer ties with the regional universities and colleges, business interests and local governments, enhancing the quality and reputation of our universities and colleges, building enrollment capacity for native students, integrating international perspectives into the activities and learning of students and faculty, and broadening the opportunity for international collaborations. It is about solidifying the Bay Area as a global talent magnet, one that is even more culturally diverse, even more innovative, and that continues to attract talent from throughout the world. We conclude the paper by suggesting that a regionally based knowledge hub would also be a viable strategy for a select group of other urban areas of the US. 

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    2010 marks the 50th anniversary of California’s famed Master Plan for Higher Education, arguably the single most influential effort to plan the future of a system of higher education in the annals of American higher education. This essay builds on the analysis offered in a previous CSHE research paper (“From Chaos to Order and Back”) by discussing the major challenges facing California’s higher education system, and offering a possibly pathway to reforms and institution-building essential for bolstering socioeconomic mobility and greater economic competitiveness. Most critics and observers of California’s system remain focused on incremental and largely marginal improvements, transfixed by the state’s persistent financial problems and inability to engage in long-range planning for a population that is projected to grow from approximately 37 million to some 60 million by 2050. President Obama has set a national goal for the US to once again have among the highest educational attainment rates in the world. This would require the nation to produce over 8 million additional degrees; California’s “fair share” would be approximately 1 million additional degrees. A number of studies indicate that California’s higher education system will not keep pace with labor needs in the state, let alone affording opportunities for socioeconomic mobility that once characterized California. California needs to re-imagine its once vibrant higher education system. The objective is to offer a vision of a more mature system of higher education that could emerge over the next twenty years; in essence, a logical next stage in a system that has hardly changed in the last five decades. Informed by the history of the tripartite system, its strengths and weaknesses over time, and the reform efforts of economic competitors throughout the world who are making significant investments in their own tertiary institutions, I offer a “re-imagined” network of colleges and universities and a plan for “Smart Growth.” I paint a picture that builds on California’s existing institutions, predicated on a more diverse array of institutional types, and rooted in the historical idea of mission differentiation. This includes setting educational attainment goals for the state; shifting more students to 4-year institutions including UC and CSU; reorganizing the California Community Colleges to include a set of 4-year institutions, another set of “Transfer Focused” campuses, and having these colleges develop a “gap” year program for students out of high school to better prepare for higher education. It also encompasses creating a new Polytechnic University sector, a new California Open University that is primarily focused on adult learners; and developing a new funding model that recognizes the critical role of tuition, and the market for international students that can generate income for higher education and attract top talent to California. There is also a need to recognize that for the US to increase degree attainment rates, the federal government will need to become a more engaged partner with the states. For the near and possibly long-term, most state governments are in a fiscally weakened position that makes any large-scale investment in expanding access improbable. Because of the size of its population alone, California is the canary in the coal mine. If the US is to make major strides toward President Obama’s goal, it cannot do it without California.

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  • FROM CHAOS TO ORDER AND BACK?A Revisionist Reflection on the California Master Plan for Higher Education@50 and Thoughts About its Future

    In 1960, California developed a “master plan” for its already famed public higher education system. It was and continues to be arguably the single most influential effort to plan the future of a system of higher education in the annals of American higher education. Despite popular belief, however, the California Master Plan for Higher Education is more important for what it preserved than what it created. There is much confusion regarding exactly how the Master Plan came about, what it said and did not say, and what portions of it are still relevant today. This essay provides a brief historical tour on how California developed its pioneering higher education system, what the 1960 Master Plan accomplished, and a discussion on the current problems facing this system in the midst of the Great Recession. The immense success of California's network of public colleges and universities has been its historic accomplishment of what I have called in a previous book, The California Idea: the goal of broad access combined with the development of high quality, mission differentiated, and affordable higher education institutions first articulated by California Progressives. Historically, this system has been a great success, with an ability to grow with the state's population and effectively meet rising demand for access to higher education. However, the fiscal health and productivity of California's higher education system has eroded over the past three or so decades. The Great Recession has greatly accelerated this trajectory. Over the past two years, public funding for higher education has been reduced by some $1 billion. Tuition and fees have climbed, but have not produced sufficient revenue to mitigate large budget cuts. The University of California and the California State University have limited enrollment for the first time, and in the midst of growing enrollment demand. California's community colleges have not been able to meet enrollment demand. There is the prospect of continued cuts in the 2010-11 fiscal year as federal stimulus funds for state governments disappear. California is projected to grow from its current 37 million people to some 60 million in 2050. In addition, President Obama has set a national goal for the US to once again have among the highest educational attainment rates in the world. This would require the nation to produce over 8 million additional degrees; California's “fair share” would be approximately 1 million additional degrees - a number made larger, because of the state's current rank among the bottom ten states in degree production relative to the size of its population. This raises a number of big questions: Can California sustain the system as outlined by the 1960 Master Plan? Even if it can, is it, as the British say, “fit for purpose?” Or is it outdated for producing robust levels of socioeconomic mobility and the trained labor needed for tomorrow's economy? How can California retain the California Idea of broad access and quality academic programs? While adequate funding is a major variable, this essay identifies a number of serious problems with the structure of California's higher education system that make meeting Obama's goal extremely difficult, if not impossible to achieve. These include macro effects of too many part-time students, an imbalance in 2-year and 4-year college enrollment, inadequate financial aid, and the need for a new public college and university funding model. A failure to pursue “smart growth” in the public higher education system will lead to a “Brazilian Effect,” in which for-profits expand dramatically to help partially fill growing demand for higher education probably at possibly even greater cost to students and government, and with often low-quality academic degree programs.

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    In the midst of the global recession, how have national governments viewed the role of higher education in their evolving strategies for economic recovery? Demand for higher education generally goes up during economic downturns. Which nations have proactively protected funding for their universities and colleges to help maintain access, to help retrain workers, and to mitigate unemployment rates? And which nations have simply made large funding cuts for higher education in light of the severe downturn in tax revenues? This essay provides a moment-in-time review of the fate of higher education among a number of OECD nations and other countries, with a particular focus on the United States, and on California – the largest state in terms of population and in the size of its economy. Preliminary indicators show that most nations have not thus far resorted to uncoordinated cutting of funding for higher education that we generally see in US state systems. Their political leaders see higher education as a key to short-term economic recovery, long-term competitiveness, and often their own political viability – particularly in nations with upcoming elections. Further, although this is speculative, it appears that many nations are using the economic downturn to actually accelerate reform policies, some intended to promote efficiencies, but most focused on improving the quality of their university sector and promoting innovation in their economies. One might postulate that the decisions made today and in reaction to the “Great Recession” by nations will likely speed up global shifts in the race to develop human capital,with the US probably losing some ground. The Obama administration’s first stimulus package helped mitigate large state budget cuts to public services in 2009-10 and to support expanded enrollments largely at the community college level. But it was not enough to avoid having universities and colleges lay off faculty and staff, reduce salaries and benefits, often eliminating course offerings that slow student progress towards a degree, or making sizable reductions in access in states such as California. States have very limited ability to borrow funds for operating costs, making the federal government the last resort. In short, how state budgets go, so goes US higher education; whereas most national systems of higher education financing is tied to national budgets with an ability to borrow. Without the current stimulus funding, the impact on access and maintaining the health of America’s universities would have been even more devastating. But that money will be largely spent by the 2011 fiscal year (Oct 2010-Sept 2011), unless Congress and the White House renew funding support on a similar scale for states that are coping with projected large budget gaps. That now seems unlikely. The Obama administration announced its proposed 2011 budget in February, including $25 billion in state aid targeted for Medicaid. This is a modest contribution to states that face projected cumulative budget deficits of $142 billion in 2011, and there is uncertainty regarding the final federal budget. This is because Obama’s proposal will be debated and voted on in a Congress increasingly focused on stemming the tide of rising federal budget deficits. Without substantially more federal aid to state governments, many public colleges and universities will face another major round of budget cuts.   There is the prospect that higher education degree production rates in the US will dip in the near term, particularly in states like California that have substantially reduced access to higher education even as enrollment demand has gone up.

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  • THE GLOBAL COMPETITION FOR TALENT The Rapidly Changing Market for International Students and the Need for a Strategic Approach in the US

    There is growing evidence that students throughout the world no longer see the US as the primary place to study; that in some form this correlates with a rise in perceived quality and prestige in the EU and elsewhere; and further, that this may mean a continued decline in the US’s market share of international students. There clearly are a complex set of variables that will influence international education and global labor markets, including the current global economic recession. Ultimately, however, we think these factors will not alter the fundamental dynamics of the new global market, which include these facts: the international flow of talent, scientific or otherwise, is being fundamentally altered as nations invest more in educational attainment and human capital; the US will continue to lose some of its market share over tim e — the only question is how quickly and by how much; and without a proactive strategy, nations such as the US that are highly dependent on global in-migration of talented students and professionals are most vulnerable to downward access to global talent, with a potentially significant impact on future economic growth. This study provides data on past and recent global trends in international enrollment, and offers a set of policy recommendations for the US at the federal, state, and institutional level. This includes our recommendation of a national goal to double the number of international students in the US over the next decade to match numbers in a group of competitor nations, and requires recognition that the US will need to strategically expand its enrollment capacity and graduation rates to accommodate needed increases in the educational attainment rate of US citizens, and to welcome more international students. Attracting talent in a global market and increasing degree attainment rates of the domestic population are not mutually exclusive goals. Indeed, they will be the hallmarks of the most competitive economies.

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  • Decoding Learning Gains: Measuring Outcomes and the Pivotal Role of the Major and Student Backgrounds

    Throughout the world, interest in gauging learning outcomes at all levels of education has grown considerably over the past decade. In higher education, measuring “learning outcomes” is viewed by many stakeholders as a relatively new method to judge the “value added” of colleges and universities. The potential to accurately measure learning gains is also viewed as a diagnostic tool for institutional self-improvement. This essay compares the methodology and potential uses of three tools for measuring learning outcomes: the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and the University of California’s Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES). In addition, we examine UCUES 2008 responses of seniors who entered as freshmen on six of the educational outcomes self-reports: analytical and critical thinking skills, writing skills, reading and comprehension skills, oral presentation skills, quantitative skills, and skills in a particular field of study. This initial analysis shows that campus-wide assessments of learning outcomes are generally not valid indicators of learning outcomes, and that self-reported gains at the level of the major are perhaps the best indicator we have, thus far, for assessing the value-added effects of a student’s academic experience at a major research university. UCUES appears the better approach for assessing and reporting learning outcomes. This is because UCUES offers more extensive academic engagement data as well as a much wider range of demographic and institutional data, and therefore an unprecedented opportunity to advance our understanding of the nature of self-reported learning outcomes in higher education, and the extent to which these reports can contribute as indirect but valid measures of positive educational outcomes. At the same time, the apparent differences in learning outcomes across the undergraduate campuses of the University of California without controls for campus differences in composition illustrates some of the limitations of self-reported data.

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  • College vs. Unemployment: Expanding Access to Higher Education Is the Smart Investment During Economic Downturns

    In forming a strategy to deal with the severe economic downturn, President-elect Obama and his evolving brain trust of economic advisers should recall the largely successful and innovative efforts by the federal and state governments to avoid a projected steep post–World War II recession – in particular, the key role of higher education. Demand for higher education generally goes up during economic downturns. Expanding higher education funding and enrollment capacity may be as important as any other policy lever to cope with an economic downturn, including funding for infrastructure. Yet most state and local governments are in the midst of wholesale cutting of their budgets. Some 75 percent of all students in the US are in public institutions. Feeling the effects of repeated cuts in budgets, many multicampus public systems are threatening to cap enrollment despite growing demand. Would it be smart to constrict access to higher education just when unemployment rates are potentially peaking? An exploratory Commission on Higher Education, not unlike what President Harry Truman formed in 1946, but with more urgency and possibly an initial budget, might provide a larger vision and contemplate a range of options. Short-term and immediate policies could include significant directed subsidization via state governments of the public higher education sectors; a large increase in federal Pell Grants for low-income students, already severely under-funded relative to demand; greatly expanded resources for direct loans; the possibility of a one-time grant for middle-income students to attend a participating public or accredited private institution; for some targeted age groups, federal unemployment compensation could be tied to enrollment access to an accredited higher education institution; and support of public college and university building programs as part of any new infrastructure investment program. Long-term goals should include an assessment of the overall health of the U.S.’s still famous, but strained, higher education system and what national and state goals might be conjured. Globally, those nations that resort to uncoordinated and reactionary cutting of funding, and reductions in access, will find themselves at a disadvantage for dealing with impact of the worldwide recession, and will lose ground in the race to develop human capital suitable for the modern era.

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  • The Big Curve: Trends in University Fees and Financing in the EU and US

    Globally, fees and tuition are growing as an important source of income for most universities, with potentially significant influence on the market for students and the behavior of institutions. Thus far, however, there is no single source on the fee rates of comparative research universities, nor information on how these funds are being used by institutions. Furthermore, research on tuition pricing has also focused largely on bachelor’s degree programs, and not on the rapid changes in tuition and fees for professional degrees. This paper offers a brief scan of pricing trends among a sample group of 24 public and private research universities in the US, all with a wide array of graduate and professional programs, and a small sample group of EU universities. We trace a pattern of convergence not only between US public and private institutions, but also find indications that these trends occur among EU universities. We theorize that pricing among major research universities is increasingly influenced by levels of market tolerance, and a convergence in pricing driven in part by the perception that price confers quality and a corresponding level of prestige to consumers. This study focuses on pricing, and hence does not delve into the complex moderating effects of bursaries and student costs such as room and board. The recent implosion in credit markets may seriously shake this emerging pricing model, in large part because it is increasingly dependent on students taking out sizable loans. But it is our sense that the long-term trends in pricing, including some level of convergence, will continue as institutions that are globally competitive look over their shoulder at what their perceived peer (or near peer) institutions are charging for specific degrees and programs. This in turn will influence the entire higher education market.

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  • The Poor and the Rich: A Look at Economic Stratification and Academic Performance Among Undergraduate Students in the United States

    A number of national studies point to a trend in which highly selective and elite private and public universities are becoming less accessible to lower-income students. At the same time there have been surprisingly few studies of the actual characteristics and academic experiences of low-income students or comparisons of their undergraduate experience with those of more wealthy students. This paper explores the divide between poor and rich students, first comparing a group of selective US institutions and their number and percentage of Pell Grant recipients and then, using institutional data and results from the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES), presenting an analysis of the high percentage of low-income undergraduate students within the University of California system — who they are, their academic performance and quality of their undergraduate experience. Among our conclusions: The University of California has a strikingly higher number of low-income students when compared to a sample group of twenty-four other selective public and private universities and colleges, including the Ivy Leagues and a sub-group of other California institutions such as Stanford and the University of Southern California. Indeed, the UC campuses of Berkeley, Davis, and UCLA each have more Pell Grant students than all of the eight Ivy League institutions combined. However, one out of three Pell Grant recipients at UC have at least one parent with a four-year college degree, calling into question the assumption that “low-income” and “first-generation” are interchangeable groups of students. Low-income students, and in particular Pell Grant recipients, at UC have only slightly lower GPAs than their more wealthy counterparts in both math, science and engineering, and in humanities and social science fields. Contrary to some previous research, we find that low-income students have generally the same academic and social satisfaction levels; and are similar in their sense of belonging within their campus communities. However, there are some intriguing results across UC campuses, with low-income students somewhat less satisfied at those campuses where there are more affluent student bodies and where lower-income students have a smaller presence.

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  • Universities, the US High Tech Advantage, and the Process of Globalization

    Research universities throughout the world are part of a larger effort by nation-states to bolster science and technological innovation and compete economically. The US remains highly competitive as a source of High Tech (HT) innovation because of a number of market positions, many the result of long term investments in institutions such as research universities and in R&D funding, and more broadly influenced by a political culture that has tended to support entrepreneurs and risk taking. In essence, the US was the first mover in pursuing the nexus of science and economic policy. The following essay places universities within this larger political and policy environment by discussing market factors that have influenced knowledge accumulation and HT innovation in the US, their current saliency in the face of globalization, and the growing market position of competitors, such as the EU. The paper also provides observations on major US state-based HT initiatives intended to create or sustain Knowledge Based Economic Areas (KBEA’s). Thirteen variables are used to assess the overall comparative ability for creating KBEA’s, including the vitality of regional and national research universities, patterns of R&D investment, access to venture capital, intellectual property laws, educational attainment levels of the workforce, access and retention of global labor force, and political interest and forms of government support for promoting science and technology.

    Among the papers conclusions: There is a large disconnect in US policy related to promoting KBEA’s and national competitiveness. Few policymakers, or even the higher education community are aware of stagnant and, in some states, real declines in higher education access and graduation rates relative to economic competitors, that the US is no longer a net importer of high tech goods, or that the US is no longer the number one destination for international students. Combined with global changes in the market for S&T talent, and the significant and increasingly successful effort of competitors to increase the educational attainment of their population, the US’s HT advantage is eroding – although there remain a number of strengths, chiefly related to an entrepreneurial culture, more conducive tax advantages for business, a cadre of elite research universities, and the highest concentration of venture capital in the world. But even here, these advantages may wane over the next decade as the world becomes more economically, and educationally, competitive. The US generally lacks a broadly conceived strategy for retaining America’s high tech advantage.

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  • A Reflection and Prospectus on Globalization and Higher Education: CSHE@50

    In the spring of 1957, the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California, Berkeley was formally established as an organized research unit, enabled by an initial grant from the Carnegie Corporation and making it the first academic enterprise in the United States focused on higher education policy issues. Since then, the Center has been an important source for encouraging an international comparative perspective, and this thereby provided a timely scholarly theme for reflecting and projecting the role of higher education in society within a globalizing world.

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  • The Crisis of the Publics: An International Comparative Discussion on Higher Education Reforms and Possible Implications for US Public Universities

    National systems of public higher education are in a state of flux. Throughout the world, a shift is occurring in the support and perception of the purpose of public research universities. Many national governments are attempting to bend their higher education systems to meet their perceived long-term socio-economic needs. At the same time, there are relatively new supranational influences on higher education markets and practices that will grow in influence over time, including the Bologna Agreement, the European Commission, the pending General Agreement on Trade and Services, and globalization associated with broadband communication and internationalization of corporations.

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  • A New Generation: Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, Immigration and the Undergraduate Experience at the University of California

    Some fifty years ago, researchers based at Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education launched a series of innovative studies on the character and disposition of undergraduate students in America’s colleges and universities. It was part of a wave of interest in the student experience and views, bolstered by the surge in university enrollment and a national commitment to mass higher education. Paul Heist, T.R. McConnell, Martin Trow, and Burton Clark, all affiliates of the Center, pioneered studies on student culture, and incorporated surveys as one method of analysis.

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  • The Conditions for Admission Access, Equity, and the Social Contract of Public Universities

    The social contract of public universities—the progressive idea that any citizen who meets specified academic conditions can gain entry to their state university—has profoundly shaped American society. This book offers the first comprehensive examination of admission policies and practices at public universities. Using the University of California, the nation's largest public research university and among its most selective, as an illuminating case study, it explores historical and contemporary debates over affirmative action, gender, class, standardized testing, and the growing influences of privatization and globalization, and indeed the very purpose and future of these important public institutions.

    The United States has been the world leader in developing mass higher education, using its pioneering network of public universities to promote socioeconomic mobility and national economic competitiveness. But the author warns that access and graduation rates have stagnated and may even be declining, particularly among younger students. Other countries, including key members of the European Union, along with China, India, and other developing nations, are aggressively reshaping and expanding their higher education systems. The “American advantage” of a high-quality and high-access higher education system is waning. The closing chapters explore why this is the case and the consequences within an increasingly competitive global economy.

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  • Universities and the Entrepreneurial State: Politics and Policy and a New Wave of State-Based Economic Initiatives

    The convergence of US federal science and economic policy that began in earnest in the Reagan administration formed the first stage in an emerging post-Cold War drive toward technological innovation. A frenzy of new state-based initiatives now forms the Second Stage, further promoting universities as decisive tools for economic competitiveness. State governments have largely become the political environment in which new policy ideas are emerging, influenced by a sense of increased competition among states and other international economies for economic growth. The paper outlines the characteristics of this Second Stage, and offers short case studies of two influential HT initiatives in California—a leading HT state. Among the author's conclusions: HT economic activity is already relatively widespread among the various states (more so than perhaps previously thought); leading HT states rely heavily on their university sectors and a highly educated workforce, yet are increasingly importing talent and neglecting investment in the education and skills of their native populations; the long-term commitment of states to financially support the frenzy of HT initiatives is unclear; and state initiatives are rationalized by lawmakers as filling a need not currently met by the private sector or universities and, in part, as a response to a sense of competition between states, and thus far with only a minor concern for global competition. As this paper explores, the politics of HT — including the focus on university-industry collaboration and neo-conservative religious/moral controversies over stem cell research — is a significant factor for understanding how and why most states are pursuing the Second Stage.

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  • The Waning of America’s Higher Education Advantage: International Competitors Are No Longer Number Two and Have Big Plans in the Global Economy

    The United States has long enjoyed being on the cutting edge in its devotion to building a vibrant higher education sector. After a century of leading the world in participation rates in higher education, however, there are strong indications that America's advantage is waning. The academic research enterprise remains relatively vibrant. However, participation and degree attainment rates have leveled off and are showing signs of actual decline in a number of major states with large populations — and this seems to be more than just a bump or short-term market correction. Other competitive nations, and in particular key members of the European Union, along with China, India and other developing economies, are aggressively nurturing their higher education systems, expanding access, and better positioning themselves in the global economy. They have been trying harder, while in the US public funding for higher education has declined. The nation's international and domestic concerns lie elsewhere. In addition to outlining these reasons that America's higher education advantage is waning, this article also discusses the possible consequences.

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  • Report: Promoting Civic Engagement at the University of California: Recommendations from the Strategy Group on Civic and Academic Engagement

    The University of California is the nation’s largest and most prestigious public research institution. As such, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to assume a leadership role in an emerging national movement within higher education, translating our identity as a land grant institution into 21st century terms.

    On June 10, 2005, over 70 faculty, students, and administrators, representing all 10 University of California campuses as well as the Office of the President, met to discuss this timely and significant topic. This meeting provided an opportunity to examine current civic engagement activities and strategies to deepen and broaden efforts in this area as well as to explore the leadership role our system might provide. The consensus of the group was that the UC is poised to assume a leadership role in a national movement that seeks to better integrate knowledge production through engaged scholarship with clear and critical public purposes.

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  • The New Flagship University: Changing The Paradigm from Global Ranking to National Relevancy by John Aubrey Douglass

    The New Flagship University provides an expansive vision for leading national universities and an alternative narrative to global rankings and World Class Universities that dominate the attention of many universities, as well as government ministries. The New Flagship model explores pathways for universities to re-shape their missions and academic cultures, and to pursue organizational features intended to expand their relevancy in the societies that give them life and purpose. In this quest, international standards of excellence focused largely on research productivity are not ignored, but are framed as only one goal towards supporting a university's productivity and larger social purpose—not as an end unto itself. Chapters by contributing authors detail the historical and contemporary role of leading national university in Asia, South America, Russia, and Scandinavia, and consider how the New Flagship model might be applied and expanded on. 

  • The Carnegie Commission and Council on Higher Education: A Retrospective

    It has been nearly forty years since Clark Kerr was asked to create and lead the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education under the auspices of the Carnegie Corporation. The Commission was to be a national effort, unprecedented both in scope and in the freedom of its director, Kerr, to guide its research and productivity. Carnegie President Alan Pifer promised substantial funding for five years or more. Working with Pifer, and with Alden Dunham, David Robinson, and others, Kerr initiated a great array of studies and provide recommendations on the most vital issues facing American higher education in the latter part of the twentieth century. This essay reviews the origins of the Commission, its successor organization, the Carnegie Council, and the influence of a number of major reports. The essay also notes the need to revisit the work of the commission and council as a source of ideas relevant today, and suggests that there is a need for a greater national approach to supporting US higher education.

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  • A New System of Top-Up Fees: Market Response of English Universities

    Fees will become an increasingly important funding source for public universities in the UK and throughout the OECD, caused in part by declining government subsidization and rising costs, as well as by an increasingly entrepreneurial drive by institutions themselves to increase revenues. Beginning in September 2006, universities and Further Education colleges in England and Wales will charge variable fees within limits set by a defined cap and by ministry demands for increases in institutional aid for lower income students. This essay chronicles the response of England’s universities. Not surprisingly, most will charge the maximum amount allowed; at the same time, levels of bursaries (financial aid) will vary between institutions. The response and plans of English universities, and the subsequent response of both the market and students, will likely have a significant influence on other OECD nations, particularly those in the European Union, as they gradually consider a similar variable fee scheme.

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  • The Dynamics Of Variable Fees: Exploring Institutional And Public Policy Responses

    Variable fees at the graduate and undergraduate levels are a topic of discussion in the US and in the EU as part of a larger movement towards increasing the role of fees in the funding of public universities. This essay describes this relatively new shift and its causes, outlines various funding models related to fee levels, and discusses the possible policy implications of variable fee structures. Here we argue that much of the movement toward increased fees in places such as the US and the UK is being pursued incrementally, without an adequate discussion of the long-term implications either for students or for how universities fund academic programs.

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  • All Globalization Is Local: Countervailing Forces And The Influence On Higher Education Markets

    Globalization trends and innovations in the instructional technologies are widely believed to be creating new markets and forcing a revolution in higher education. Much of the rhetoric of globalists has presented a simplistic analysis of a paradigm shift in higher education markets and the way nations and institutions deliver educational services. This essay provides an analytical framework for understanding global influences on national higher education systems. It then identifies and discusses the countervailing forces to globalization that help to illuminate the complexities of the effects of globalization (including the General Agreement on Trade and Services) and new instructional technologies on the delivery and market for teaching and learning services. Globalization does offer substantial and potentially sweeping changes to national systems of higher education, but there is no uniform influence on nation-states or institutions. All globalization is in fact subject to local (or national and regional) influences.

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  • A New Cycle Of UK Higher Education Reforms: New Labour And New Fees May Foster Mission Differentiation

    A White Paper issued by the Labour government—under Prime Minister Tony Blair—in January 2003 outlines potentially sweeping changes in how British universities might be funded and regulated. These changes would build on three major paradigm shifts and experiments in system building in higher education in the United Kingdom since World War II: the creation and subsequent collapse of a binary system of higher education that included both universities and polytechnics; a decrease in governmental funding and an increase in regulations; and the introduction of student fees into the previously exclusively government-funded higher education sector. The Labour government's new White Paper proposes both to increase funding and to diversify the sources, and more controversially, to allow universities to set their own fees. At the same time, it continues to rely on an accountability and regulatory bureaucracy, and incentive funding, to encourage enrollment growth and to expand access to underserved populations.

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  • Report: Learning And Academic Engagement In The Multiversity - Results Of The First University Of California Undergraduate Experience Survey

    During the Spring of 2002 and 2003, a team of faculty and institutional researchers conducted an innovative web-based survey on the undergraduate experience at all eight undergraduate campuses of the University of California. This report provides the first formal presentation of preliminary findings from that survey and discusses potential areas of relevance to policy for further research.

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  • PROFILING THE FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITY MODEL: An Exploratory Proposal for Changing the Paradigm From Ranking to Relevancy

    It’s a familiar if not fully explained paradigm. A “World Class University” (WCU) is supposed to have highly ranked research output, a culture of excellence, great facilities, and a brand name that transcends national borders. But perhaps most importantly, the particular institution needs to sit in the upper echelons of one or more world rankings generated each year by non-profit and for-profit entities. That is the ultimate proof for many government ministers and for much of the global higher education community. Or is it? It is not that current rankings are not useful and informative. The problem is that they represent a very narrow band of what it means to be a leading, or what might be best called a “Flagship” university within a region, within a nation. Further, WCU advocates do not provide much guidance, or knowledge, on what organizational behaviors and methods can lead to greater productivity in research, teaching, and public service that can best help universities meet the needs of the societies they must serve. In this essay I attempt to advocate the notion of the Flagship University as a more relevant ideal—a model for public institutions, and perhaps some private institutions, one that could replace, or perhaps supplement and alter the perceptions, behaviors, and goals of ministries and universities in their drive for status and influence on society. It is a model that does not ignore international standards of excellence focused largely on research productivity, but is grounded in national and regional service, and with a specific set of characteristics and responsibilities that, admittedly, do not lend themselves to ranking regimes. Indeed, one goal here is to articulate a path, using the language of the Flagship University, that de-emphasizes rankings and that helps broaden the focus beyond research to relevancy and responsibility. Flagship Universities are research-intensive institutions, or in the process of becoming so, but have wider recognized goals. The great challenge for the network of universities that are truly leaders in their own national higher education systems is to shape their missions and, ultimately, to meaningfully expand their role in the societies that gave them life and purpose.  The Flagship University profile explored here includes an outline of mission, culture, and operational features, and is intended as a possible construct for this cause.

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  • Investment Patterns In California Higher Education And Policy Options For A Possible Future

    What has been the level of public investment in this higher education system, and how has it performed over the past century? What are the challenges that California higher education faces in the future and what level of investment is necessary? This paper attempts to provide an historical context to these questions to assist Californians as they once again consider how to expand educational opportunity. California now faces a dramatic new period of potential enrollment and program growth that will have a significant impact on socio-economic mobility, and on the state's economic competitiveness. How might the state rise to the occasion?

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  • From Multi-To Meta-University: Organizational And Political Change At The University Of California In The 20th Century And Beyond

    Using Clark Kerr's observations on the American research university in the post-World War II era as a discussion point, this paper offers a brief summary of the expansion of the University of California during the 20th century, general observations on the emergence of its contemporary management structure after World War II, and an preliminary assessment of the possible scope of expansion and change in the new century.

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  • How California Determined Admissions Pools: Lower And Upper Division Student Targets And The California Master Plan For Higher Education

    The 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education made a number of recommendations in the area of admissions. Key was a proposed target of at least 60% of all undergraduate students being at the upper division level at the University of California and what became the California State University system. At the time, approximately 51 percent of the instruction at both UC and the State Colleges (CSU) were at the upper division. It was assumed that there was a high correlation between upper division instruction and the status of undergraduates as Juniors and Seniors. The plan, subsequent actions by the Board of Regents. and amendments to the California Education Code, reinforce the general concept that the 40/60 ratio is a minimum target, with the 40 percent a ceiling, and the 60 percent upper division a floor. This paper was developed at the request of the UC Office of the President and outlines the development of this policy and its key role in setting current UC and CSU admissions pools.

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  • The California Idea and American Higher Education 1850 to the 1960 Master Plan

    Throughout the twentieth century, public universities were established across the United States at a dizzying pace, transforming the scope and purpose of American higher education. Leading the way was California, with its internationally renowned network of public colleges and universities. This book is the first comprehensive history of California's pioneering efforts to create an expansive and high-quality system of public higher education.

    The author traces the social, political, and economic forces that established and funded an innovative, uniquely tiered, and geographically dispersed network of public campuses in California. This influential model for higher education, “The California Idea,” created an organizational structure that combined the promise of broad access to public higher education with a desire to develop institutions of high academic quality. Following the story from early statehood through to the politics and economic forces that eventually resulted in the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education, The California Idea and American Higher Education offers a carefully crafted history of public higher education.

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  • The Evolution Of A Social Contract: The University Of California Before And In The Aftermath Of Affirmative Action

    This essay provides an analysis of the history of admissions at the University of California (UC), including the development of affirmative action programs in the 1960s and, more recently, the heated political battle over the use of race and gender preferences at the University. In an era of mass higher education, the debate over affirmative action has renewed a persistent question within democratic societies: who should and should not have access to a public university education? Two general themes will be discussed. The first reflects different stages in the historical development of UC admissions. Admissions has moved from a process intended to consider a large number of factors for providing access, to a more rigid system that includes the adoption of standardized tests beginning in the 1960s, and now full-circle toward a more dynamic process - yet without the tool of race and gender preferences. The second theme revolves around the debate over affirmative action and points to a source of tension within higher education systems: how to define and create a meritocracy that provides opportunities for individuals, while also meeting the larger needs of society.

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  • The Cold War, Technology And The American University

    The translation of Sputnik from a scientific into a political event changed the dynamics of federal science and technology policy, and elevated to new heights the American research university as a pivotal tool for winning the Cold War. This paper discusses this significant shift in federal policy, its impact on America's research universities and scientific community, and its influence on the contemporary economy. Sputnik prompted a significant expansion in the training of scientists and engineers, and acted as a catalyst for large-scale federal funding for higher education. It also resulted in the federal government becoming the nation's primary source of R&D investment. The result was a greatly accelerated shift in scientific research increasingly toward a multi-disciplinary model and the creation of new knowledge that form the foundation for today's technological innovations that may well exceed in importance the trials and tribulations of the Cold War itself.

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  • Planning New UC Campuses In The 1960s A Background Paper For UC Merced On The Role Of The Universitywide Senate

    This brief provides additional information on the role of the Academic Senate in new campus planning in the 1960s. A previous report, “The Role of the Academic Senate in Tenth Campus Planning,” provided background information for the University of California Academic Council and the Assembly of the Academic Senate regarding the potential role of the Academic Senate in establishing UC Merced. The Merced campus is scheduled to begin instruction in the fall of 2004. This report is intended to provide contextual information for the Academic Senate’s UC Merced Task Force.

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  • A Brief On Improving UC Intercampus Articulation: Creating A Model For Articulation And Matriculation Agreements

    This brief provided a possible policymaking path for the University of California to would improve UC intercampus articulation, while also retaining the authority of the campus Divisions of the Academic Senate (which regulates course agreements), colleges, and academic departments to set standards for the acceptance of course credit. Two issues are discussed. One, an outline of the current difficulties for a student to be simultaneously enrolled in a course at a UC campus other than their “home” UC campus, and the need to improve this process in the future. And two, the possibility of a policy framework and a proposed mechanism for both improving and regulating enrollment and the transfer of course credit toward the degree and major with applicability within university and an improving articulation with California's Community Colleges.

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  • Shared Governance At The University Of California: An Historical Review

    Two major features in the historical development of the University of California distinguish it from other major public research universities. The first is the university's unusual status as a constitutionally designated public trust—a designation shared by only five other major public universities. The second is the University of California's tradition of shared-governance: the concept that faculty should share in the responsibility for guiding the operation and management of the university, while preserving the authority of the university's governing board, the Regents, to ultimately set policy. Both of these organizational features of California's land-grant university, combined with a massive investment by tax payers to expand enrollment and academic programs, has resulted in a university enterprise of international distinction and vital service to the people of California. This paper provides an historical summary of the development of shared governance at the University.

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  • Envisioning the Asian New Flagship University: Its Past and Vital Future

    Envisioning the Asian New Flagship University critically examines how leading universities within the Asia-Pacific region are responding in a time of accelerated and uncertain change. The book argues for building a deeper understanding through a holistic and expansive framework that considers the many and diverse roles played by such institutions: as drivers of social mobility and economic advancement, as stewards of a spirit of public and community service, as a partner with government and business, and as a creator of new knowledge and future leaders.

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