Here's yet another sign of crisis in California higher education. More students are leaving the state to attend a four-year college or university.
Bee staff writer Phillip Reese reported in his Sunday story, "More students flee state to study," that California is a net exporter of freshmen to other states. The numbers are still relatively small 27,300 California high school graduates started college at an out-of-state, four-year university in 2010.
But they are a symptom of the long decline in state support for education, which is turning up in many ways.
First, the number of high school graduates continues to increase. So does the number of students taking "A to G" courses, the core high school courses that make students eligible for the University of California and California State University.
Yet the number of first-time students at UC, CSU and community colleges has declined from the peak in 2008.
Admissions and enrollment are limited by massive reductions in state funding. The bottom line: Our public colleges and universities could be accommodating more students if state support were not being reduced.
Campuses have had to turn away highly qualified students. This is what experts call "net loss in college opportunity." Students and parents feel that loss directly.
Second, even where students can get admitted, they may not be able to enroll in the major of their choice. Just try to enroll as a business or graphic design major at California State University, Sacramento, for example. Students may have to either pick an alternate major, or wait to be admitted to an oversubscribed major.
Third, many students can't get the classes they need to graduate in four years. And if they can't get into required classes, they risk losing financial aid and, of course, spending more time and money in school.
It should surprise no one that more students are looking out of state to get an education. In our region, if the trend continues, it could lead to a brain drain of talent, since students who attend college out of state tend not to return to California.
But the greater problem with California's higher-ed squeeze is the students who can't afford an out-of-state degree, and are left with few good options for their aspirations.
This crunch on college access in California comes as the baby boom generation is retiring and the need for college-educated individuals is greater than ever. California needs to find ways to increase college attendance, not close it off.