A $47.2 billion budget is required for the update and maintenance of existing infrastructure at the California Community Colleges, University of California, and California State University over the next five years. Both the state and institutions, however, lack solid planning to address such needs.
This and other issues encountered by systems in preserving public facilities for higher education are highlighted by a Colleges Futures Foundation report. To address these challenges, Paying for Space also includes systematic solutions to generate funds for maintenance backlogs. It was authored by consultant Patrick Lenz
The report indicates that California’s plans are “inconsistent, uneven and unclear.” Instead of following plans with a long-term perspective, infrastructure projects are usually dictated by the availability of financing. In addition, the state has yet to reveal a clear strategy on how it would accommodate the needs of a steadily increasing student population.
“Our public higher education system is an incredible asset for California,” said College Futures Foundation CEO Monica Lozano. “If we are to ensure that the system’s facilities can meet the needs of our state now and in the future, California will need a systematic way to pay for maintenance and accommodate growing demand.”
To generate revenue that would sustain building maintenance, the report, released Dec. 14, encourages entering public-private partnerships or joint ventures. Sharing the use of facilities across institutions as well as shifting to online learning has also been suggested.
As part of the organization’s commitment to alleviate the financial crisis faced by California’s higher education systems, the College Futures Foundation will support a related research project that will concentrate on identifying practical solutions.