Historic Declines at California Community Colleges

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Declining enrollment of historic proportions, accompanied by shrinking class offerings in California community colleges have whipsawed students and impeded their education, even as further cuts loom.

A survey released this week by the chancellor’s office showed enrollment off 17% between 2008-09 and 2011-12, down to 2.4 million students. The drop in enrollment reflects fewer available resources, not declining interest by perspective students.  

Class offerings shrank even more, with students who were scrambling to fill their schedules finding 24% fewer sections to sign up for. Students pressed to complete their community college stay in two years and perhaps finish their education at a 4-year school, are finding the lack of available classes problematic.

More than 470,000 students began the fall semester on a waiting list for at least one class.

Community colleges have seen their state budgets whacked by $809 million since 2008. If Governor Jerry Brown’s tax proposition on the November ballot fails, they will face another $338 million in cuts. California State University and the University of California would each lose $250 million.

The chancellor’s survey, which had responses from 78 of the state’s 112 colleges, showed that 87.2% had reduced their staffs in the past year. For 75.8%, adjunct faculty was part of the reduction. Two-thirds of the schools reported waits of up to 12 days for students seeking assistance with financial aid, counseling and other matters after cuts in student services, or their elimination entirely, at 68% of colleges.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More

California Community Colleges Chart Historic Enrollment Declines (by Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times)

Survey Offers Dire Picture of California's Two-Year Colleges (by Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times)

Survey of California Community Colleges Reveals Drastic Effects of Budget Cuts (by Lee Gardner, The Chronicle of Higher Learning)

Impact of Budget Cuts Survey Questions (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office) (pdf)

Leave a comment