SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — In his pursuit to hold down the cost of a college education in California, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday asked the University of California to identify which factors have the greatest effect on campus graduation rates.
The Democratic governor, acting in his official capacity as president of the Board of Regents, grilled UC Provost Aimee Dorr about the university system’s graduation rates during a board meeting in Sacramento.
Dorr said overall rates and the number of years it takes to get a degree at the 10 UC campuses generally have improved over the past two decades.
Sixty percent of those entering the system as freshmen in 2007 graduated in four years, compared to 37 percent of 1992’s freshmen class, Dorr said.
Rates at some UC campuses are higher than those at some other comparable university systems, university officials said, contrasting against the flagship campuses at the University of Texas or University of Wisconsin.
But some UC campuses have seen a greater change than others, she said. For example, the four-year graduation rate at two neighboring campuses in Southern California is significantly different: The rate at UC Irvine has risen to nearly 70 percent, while the rate at UC Riverside remains barely above 40 percent.
Officials said various factors affect graduation rates, including a student’s financial aid status, major and family education history.
Brown has pushed to make the state’s higher education systems more efficient and to lower the cost of attendance. He pressed university officials to look at whether the rates are affected more by the students’ situations or outside factors.
“You put all these charts and it looks like things are getting better, but if we don’t know why they’re getting better, then the chart isn’t very useful,” Brown said.
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