Goals Under the terms of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University provides instruction to all freshmen and community college transfer students who meet its eligibility requirements and choose to enroll, and to graduate academic and professional degree students who quality for admission into its post-baccalaureate programs. UC's students, who number 226,000 in all, receive a distinctive education that provides exposure to academic research and the people who conduct it.
Measures Measuring the quality of instruction is notoriously hard and the subject of considerable debate. At UC, individual academic departments and degree programs are responsible for defining learning objectives and for assessing their progress in meeting them. Objectives and assessments are among items studied in routine academic program reviews conducted by the University. In recent years, they have become a major focus of institutional reviews conducted by the regional accreditation agency (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) as well as reviews by many professional accrediting and related bodies. Information about program learning objectives is available on many departmental websites and each campus posts materials related to accreditation reviews.
This section provides summary measures that focus on student-faculty ratios, class size and student satisfaction levels. Each of these measures illuminates some aspect of teaching, learning and the student experience, and while any single one is imperfect, together they begin to develop a portrait of the instructional enterprise, its impacts and its effectiveness. They will be supplemented in future reports with additional measures of student learning outcomes.
This section also presents information about UC's extension programs. UC Extension, which is the largest continuing education program in the nation, provides courses with about 300,000 enrollments annually to adult students, typically working professionals with a bachelor's degree or greater. Extension programs, which are completely self-supporting (and thus not directly affected by state budget cuts), complement the University's core mission and extend the University's reach to adult learners at regional, national and international levels.
Looking Forward The quality of instruction at UC is threatened by the long-term decline in state funding and the resulting decline in per capita educational expenditures (Section I). In response, UC campuses have adopted a variety of strategies, such as hiring fewer permanent faculty, increasing class size and curtailing student support services, all of which directly impact teaching and learning. Although the impacts are not yet apparent in the data presented here, this section provides important baseline measures against which they can be evaluated in future years.