- The state of California has formed a postsecondary education advisory council to coordinate its higher education systems.
- The Council for Post-Secondary Education includes representatives from the state's two public four-year university systems and its community college system as well as stakeholders such as the California Labor Federation and the state's Chamber of Commerce.
- Although it does not have the power to regulate, the council stands to help California institutions address collective goals such as managing capacity issues and easing community college transfers.
California has been lacking a body that could examine relationships across its postsecondary institutions since 2011, when former Gov. Jerry Brown shut down the California Postsecondary Education Commission. That made California one of just a few states without such an entity.
Analysts and higher ed leaders say coordinating bodies like California's new council can help pursue policies that lead to equitable outcomes for the state as a whole, even if they only have recommendatory privileges.
They "can take a holistic approach and a macro view that leads to better outcomes in the long run, with respect to equity, economic growth and even for efficiency across states," Justin Marlowe, a professor of public finance and civic engagement at the University of Washington, told Education Dive in an interview.
As a public policy tool, they are particularly useful in areas like transportation and higher ed because they decide how to efficiently allocate and manage state dollars for services with significant economic consequences for locals.
However, some are skeptical about a council with no public representation.
Institutions have their own priorities, which may conflict and make it difficult to reach a consensus about what's good for the state, Paul Warren, a research associate at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), told Education Dive in an interview.
Marlowe agrees on the value of having public representatives on such a council.
"Coordinating bodies tell the story of the economic impact of higher ed on the state and bringing that story to life is something a citizen can do," he said. "That's because citizens are close to the people and can see what regular folks want to get done."
California’s council will have a big to-do list. The state's employers are expected to need 1.1 million additional college graduates by 2030, according to a March PPIC report. What's more, tight capacity at California colleges has many applicants looking elsewhere and out-of-state institutions seeking to recruit them.
The council would be in a position to evaluate current enrollment targets, adjust them and advise on systemwide tactics to help accommodate the resulting growth, the report notes.