The University of California on Tuesday began considering dramatic changes in the way it educates its students and raises revenue, including whether to offer three-year bachelor's degrees and enroll more out-of-state undergraduates.When I was there (I graduated from UCI in the 1990s), it was all but impossible to get out in just four years, even if one were to aggressively knock down graduation requirements during summer school. But then again, why would one want to? Sure, you can save money by being in school only four years instead of five, but three years plus summers is about the same cost as four years anyway.
UC's Commission on the Future heard its first set of proposals aimed at making the 10-campus system more efficient while preserving its academic strengths. Some ideas are sure to be controversial as they are discussed over the next few months, officials said.
"Some recommendations you may like a lot. Some you may think are terrible. But that's OK. They are important ideas to put forward," UC Regents Chairman Russell S. Gould said at the commission's meeting at UC San Francisco.
Proposals from the commission's five subcommittees include: encouraging some students to complete bachelor's degrees in three years through extra summer sessions and fewer requirements; doubling the number of out-of-state students, who now make up 5% of undergraduates and pay significantly higher fees; charging more for the most popular campuses, including UC Berkeley and UCLA; and expanding online course offerings.
By cutting down on the time spent in school — especially if it is because of a curtailment of required classes — some students will get shortchanged when it comes to something like, writing skills, critical thinking, or even exposure to a wide range of subject matter. Frankly, I think every class I took at UCI was valuable and I would have been worse off for not having taken them. (This is one reason I'm opposed to the heavy emphasis on AP tests in lieu of required courses). And that's not even considering whether a twenty-one-year-old is ready for the real world (knowing what I know now, I would be far more inclined to hire a four-year graduate than a three-year graduate, even with the same coursework and performance).
And for those of you who wonder what Korean Immigration would do with three-year degrees from the prestigious University of California, well, they would still be the equivalent of a four-year degree, so I don't think there's much to worry about there.