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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Center for Studies in Higher Education is a research and policy center on higher education oriented to California, the nation, and comparative international issues. It promotes discussion among university leaders, government officials, academics and all those interested in higher education policy. It assists policy making by providing a neutral forum for airing contentious issues and by keeping the higher education world informed of new initiatives and proposals. Likewise, the research conducted at the Center aims to inform current debate about higher education policy and practice. Founded in 1956 it was the first higher education center of this kind in the United States. Currently it has an especially strong interest in public policy aimed at improving higher education in California and developing a strategic perspective on the future of the University of California.

Cover page of International Education in a World of New Geopolitics: A Comparative Study of US and Canada

International Education in a World of New Geopolitics: A Comparative Study of US and Canada

(2022)

This paper examines how international education (IE) as a tool of government foreign policy is challenged in an era of new geopolitics, where China’s growing ambitions have increased rivalry with the West. It compares U.S. and Canada as cases first, by examining rationales and approaches to IE in both countries, second, IE relations with China before conflict and third, current controversies and government policy responses to IE relations with China. The paper concludes identifying contextual factors that shape each country’s engagement with IE, but suggests that moving forward, the future of IE in a world of new geopolitics is likely to be far more complex and conflictual.

Cover page of Effective Communication: The 4th Mission of Universities—a 21st Century Challenge

Effective Communication: The 4th Mission of Universities—a 21st Century Challenge

(2022)

The critical role of communication is usually overlooked by higher education institutions. Here we argue that higher education institutions must consider an effective communication as one of their top priorities. This communication must go well beyond promoting the university’s opportunities to potential new students, the pursuit of potential donors and outreach to policymakers: it must engage all aspects of internal academic life and seek the engagement of the larger society. Increasingly, higher education has to defend its purpose, integrity and legitimacy in a climate of growing neo-nationalist and populist movements. A comprehensive communication plan includes a deep revision of the University core values and practices, better teaching and learning strategies, as well as modern internal and external communication tools, including all sorts of social media.

Cover page of The Private Side of Public Universities: Third-party providers and platform capitalism

The Private Side of Public Universities: Third-party providers and platform capitalism

(2022)

The rapid rise of online enrollments in public universities has been fueled by a reliance on for-profit, third-party providers—especially online program managers. However, scholars know very little about the potential problems with this arrangement. We conduct a mixed methods analysis of 229 contracts between third-party providers and 117 two-year and four-year public universities in the US, data on the financing structure of third-party providers, and university online education webpages. We ask: What are the mechanisms through which third-party relationships with universities may be exploitative of students or the public universities that serve them? To what extent are potentially predatory processes linked to the private equity and venture capital financing structure of third-party providers? We highlight specific mechanisms that lead to five predatory processes: the targeting of marginalized students, extraction of revenue, privatization by obfuscation, for-profit creep, and university captivity. We demonstrate that contracts with private equity and venture capital financed third-party providers are more likely to include potentially problematic contract stipulations. We ground our findings in a growing body of work on “platform capitalism” and include recommendations for state universities, accreditors, and federal policy.

Cover page of Role of University International Partnerships for Research & Education: Leaders’ Critical Insights & Recommendations

Role of University International Partnerships for Research & Education: Leaders’ Critical Insights & Recommendations

(2022)

International partnerships have become increasingly important for the mission and goals of universities and colleges globally.  Understanding the nature of these partnerships and the perspectives of their senior leaders is critical. Senior international officers (SIOs) at 59 US public and private universities and colleges and 4 non-US universities completed surveys regarding:  goals and criteria for developing the partnerships; number and country of their partners; types of existing partnerships; ways the university/college promotes/rewards international partnerships; challenges faced and important considerations for developing partnerships;  and recommendations to enhance successful international partnerships. The SIOs’ insights and recommendations were reviewed and analyzed. The most frequently identified major goals were ‘enhancing the quality of research and scholarship’ and ‘strengthening students’ education and preparation for life in a multicultural world and global economy’. Conclusions included the recognition that successful strategic international partnerships and effective policy will likely: need to expand in scale, scope, diversity, and complexity; require strong, committed leadership; draw on the research and pedagogical knowledge worldwide; and carefully consider the wide, unique opportunities and challenges of these partnerships for practice and policy.

Cover page of Eligibility for Admission to the University of California After the SAT/ACT: Toward a Redefinition of Eligibility

Eligibility for Admission to the University of California After the SAT/ACT: Toward a Redefinition of Eligibility

(2022)

Eligibility is a policy construct unique to California. UC and CSU are the only US universities that distinguish between eligibility for admission and admission itself and set separate requirements for each.  The eligibility construct derives originally from California’s 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, which famously mandated that UC admit students from the top 12.5% (and CSU from the top 33.3%) of California public high school graduates.  Thus began a long and twisting saga of policy implementation that has become increasingly convoluted over time. UC’s decision to eliminate the SAT/ACT in university admissions presents an opportune moment to rethink the eligibility construct from the ground up. This essay proposes, first, eliminating the now-antiquated “Eligibility Index,” a mechanical algorithm that is increasingly at odds with the thrust of UC admissions policy over the past two decades; second, moving from a 12.5% eligibility target (the percentage of students who qualify for admission) to a 7.5% participation target (the percentage who actually enroll); and third, redefining eligibility from a norm-referenced to a criterion-referenced construct. Using holistic or comprehensive review to select from among applicants who have successfully completed UC subject requirements at a specified level of proficiency, UC would admit that number of applicants needed to yield a 7.5% participation rate among California high school graduates. This is the same average participation rate that the Master Plan has yielded historically, so that the proposal would be revenue-neutral with respect to State funding for UC.  At the same time, like the 12.5% eligibility target, a 7.5% participation target would tie UC enrollment growth to growth in California’s college-age population. Conversion from an eligibility to a participation target would not eliminate the eligibility construct but would redefine it. In place of a norm-referenced standard – whether students rank in the “top 12.5%” – eligibility would be redefined as a criterion-referenced standard: Whether students have mastered the foundational knowledge and skills needed to succeed at UC. When we judge students against that standard, two truths become evident. First is that the pool of students who are qualified for and can succeed at UC is far larger than UC can accommodate; the chief advantage of a criterion-referenced standard is the greater scope for UC to select from a broader, more diverse pool of qualified applicants.  Second is that expanding eligibility is much less a priority than increasing actual enrollment and participation rates among the pool of those who are already qualified.

Cover page of When are Universities Followers or Leaders in Society? A Framework for a Contemporary Assessment

When are Universities Followers or Leaders in Society? A Framework for a Contemporary Assessment

(2022)

In assessing the current and future role of universities in the nation-states in which they are chartered and funded, it is useful to ask, When are universities societal leaders as societal and constructive change agents, and when are they followers, reinforcing the existing political order? As discussed in the book, Neo-Nationalism and Universities: Populists, Autocrats and the Future of Higher Education, the national political history and contemporary context is the dominant factor for shaping the leadership or follower role of universities – what I call a political determinist interpretation.  We often think of contemporary universities, and their students and faculty, as catalysts for societal progress -- the Free Speech and Civil Rights movements, Vietnam War protests, the anti-Apartheid movement, Tiananmen Square, and more recently the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Universities can be, and have been, the locus for not only educating enlightened future leaders, but also for opposing oppression and dictatorships. But universities have also proved over their history to be tools for serving the privileged, and reinforcing the social class divisions of a society; they also have been factories for errant theories that reinforce the worst of nationalist tendencies. Universities are both unique environments for educating and mentoring free thinkers, entrepreneurs, and citizens with, for example, a devotion to social change, or for creating conformists -- or all of the above. How might we assess whether universities are followers or leaders in their societies? This essay considers this question, offering a framework for evaluating the follower or leader role, and with particular attention to the emergence or, in some cases, re-emergence of neo-nationalist leaders and autocratic governments.

Cover page of Collective Bargaining and Social Justice in the Post-Covid Digital Era

Collective Bargaining and Social Justice in the Post-Covid Digital Era

(2021)

This paper examines social justice and collective bargaining with a focus on higher education. Observations are offered around the following issues: a) a brief history of social justice as it has been conceptualized in labor management relations with a particular focus on unions in higher education; b) identification of collective bargaining scenarios when social justice platforms may have a more salient impact on negotiations; c) actions and strategies the parties might consider to accommodate social justice concerns in the bargaining process; and d) measuring and assessing collective bargaining outcomes. Collective bargaining in post-secondary institutions remains a complex phenomenon where political and legal guidelines are evolving particularly in a post-COVID environment. Accurate assessment of bargaining outcomes presents a variety of methodological challenges.

Cover page of The University of California’s Faculty Code of Conduct at Fifty:A Procedural and Sociological History of UC’s Evolving Ecosystem of Policies, Rules and Norms for Faculty Discipline

The University of California’s Faculty Code of Conduct at Fifty:A Procedural and Sociological History of UC’s Evolving Ecosystem of Policies, Rules and Norms for Faculty Discipline

(2021)

The occasion of the 50th anniversary of the University of California’s Faculty Code of Conduct is an opportune time for this unique CSHE paper, which documents the web of policies, rules, procedures, norms and institutional actors related to faculty discipline at UC campuses, including the socio-political context of successful and unsuccessful reform efforts across the decades.  Compared to other spheres of college and university governance, rules and norms for disciplining faculty misconduct are less frequently the subject of sustained attention by scholars of higher education.  Today’s administrative and faculty leaders must be ready to adeptly handle faculty discipline cases for many reasons, including public accountability and trust, stewardship of the conditions for research and knowledge creation, civil rights/legal compliance, deterrence, transmission of ethical norms and values to all present and future members of the academic community, and to ensure that the organizational climate does not discourage talented and diverse students from pursuing careers in the professoriate.

Cover page of College Major Restrictions and Student Stratification

College Major Restrictions and Student Stratification

(2021)

Underrepresented minority (URM) college students have been steadily earning degrees in relatively less-lucrative fields of study since the mid-1990s. A decomposition reveals that this widening gap is principally explained by rising stratification at public research universities, many of which increasingly enforce GPA restriction policies that prohibit students with poor introductory grades from declaring popular majors. We investigate these GPA restrictions by constructing a novel 50-year dataset covering four public research universities’ student transcripts and employing a dynamic difference-in-difference design around the implementation of 29 restrictions. Restricted majors’ average URM enrollment share falls by 20 percent, which matches observational patterns and can be explained by URM students’ poorer average pre-college academic preparation. Using first-term course enrollments to identify students who intend to earn restricted majors, we find that major restrictions disproportionately lead URM students from their intended major toward less-lucrative fields, driving within-institution ethnic stratification and likely exacerbating labor market disparities.