SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – Graduation rates throughout the University of California system have risen significantly over the past 20 years despite cuts in state funding, a university official said Wednesday.

Sixty percent of the freshman who enrolled in 2007 graduated within four years, compared to a 37 percent four-year graduation rate for the cohort that started in 1992, said UC Provost Aimee Dorr.

“All of the campuses have room to make some improvement towards more four-year graduation rates and fewer five and six-year graduation rates,” Dorr said, noting that some campuses had higher graduation rates than others.

The academic performance indicators Dorr presented at the Regents Committee on Educational Policy meeting Wednesday in Sacramento did not explain why graduation rates have been improving.

Gov. Jerry Brown, president of the UC Board of Regents, pressed the committee to examine whether more students graduated on time because they could afford school.

“Are the factors inside students? Is it their financial situation? Are these going up because of something the university’s doing? Is it out there in the world at large?” Brown asked.

“If we find some of those creative ways and we can get through in keeping our costs down, more people are going to have a chance to go to UC,” he said.

The statistics reflect how a student’s financial situation, as well as whether or not the student has to work while in school, can complicate graduating on time, Dorr said, but a definitive answer to the governor’s question would require more study.

“Santa Barbara did a little study of what helped students who are not making adequate progress, and the only thing that mattered was getting them a counselor who paid attention to them,” she said.

Brown has proposed restoring $256 million next year of the $900 million UC officials said had been cut from the system over the past five years.

The report recommends legislators give the UC system greater control and flexibility over resources since different factors may play into student success at a particular campus.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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