I just learned via the @One blog that the Public Policy Institute of California released new survey that shares concerns and opinions of Californians about the status of higher education in their “golden state.” Below you will find my excerpts from the report including some brief overview information and a few highlights of the findings. I strongly encourage you to download the full report (in PDF) to review its entirety on your own.

How do your thoughts compare? Do you think Californians have gauged the severity of this issue realistically? Could a bond measure solve this issue? Will the hallmarks of higher education survive the deep-seated innovation that would be necessary to rethink and retool this system for 21st century success? Are we seeing the higher education “problem” as a “21st century problem” rather than just a “deficit” problem? What do you think?

The PPIC Statewide Survey provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with objective, advocacy-free information on the perceptions, opinions, and public policy preferences of California residents.

Higher education is guided by a 1960 master plan that calls for making a college education available to every qualified California high school graduate. Currently, about 3.6 million students use publicly funded higher education, according to data from the three higher education systems, the California Community College (CCC), California State University (CSU), and University of California (UC). Higher education faces immediate challenges—including significant state budget cuts, the rising costs of a college education, and continued weakness in the state and national economies. It also faces long-term challenges: projections of increased need for college-educated workers in the state and rapid population growth.

The report presents the responses of 2,502 California adult residents, including 1,488 likely voters and 973 parents of children 18 or younger.

Californians place more importance on a college education than do adults nationwide.

The majority of Californians place a very high or high priority on spending for public higher education. Given this priority, what are Californians ready to do to offset state spending cuts?

68% are unwilling to increase student fees.

56% are unwilling to pay higher taxes. (How does this breakdown along party lines: 56% of Democrats are willing to pay higher taxes, 58% of Independents are willing and only 26% of Republicans are willing.)

53% would support a higher education construction bond measure on the 2010 bond ballot.

50% believe that major changes are needed in higher education.

59% are very concerned and 29% are somewhat concerned about reducing the number of students admitted as a way to offset budget cuts.

The same, 59% are very concerned and 29% are somewhat concerned about cuts in course offerings.

48% are very concerned and 32% are somewhat concerned about reductions in faculty and staff pay.

89% of parents with children 18 years or younger hope their child or children will receive a bachelor’s or graduate degree. Latino parents are more worried (67%) than white parents (38%) about being able to afford to send their children to college.

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