A Bold Vision to Make California's Higher Education More Equitable
With the right investments today, educational institutions can become drivers for regional community wellbeing and sustainability.
Today, Institute for the Future (IFTF) unveiled a vision for a possible new educational model that calls for a wholesale reimagining of higher education and its role within regional systems to improve social mobility and equity for all. IFTF’s report, Creating a future-ready, equitable higher education system, made possible with support from the College Futures Foundation (CFF), opens with a future scenario called, “A New Climate Grant Multiversity.” This scenario presents a bold vision of an integrated regional education system united by a common goal: to build community wealth and wellbeing.
The report includes findings from a series of ethnographic interviews with students throughout California, interviews and workshops with students, experts, and innovators in higher education and related fields, and a look at relevant historical data and future trends. The findings point to a complex interplay between higher education and the larger economy and society, which translates into opportunities for innovation at the regional level and higher education being an engine of upward mobility for all in California's many diverse regions. IFTF’s regional Multiversity approach places higher education at the center of a new way of thinking about economic development—not just for California, but for the world.
The stakes have never been higher. California is an innovative, economic, and cultural powerhouse with a significant impact on higher education.Marina Gorbis, IFTF Executive Director
As the fifth-largest economy in the world, the decisions California makes today in regards to higher education will have far-reaching implications for the country and the world. California could once again be the shining example of equitable, diverse, and practical public higher education envisioned in the Master Plan.Marina Gorbis, IFTF Executive Director
UC President Clark Kerr designed California’s Master Plan in 1960 to create an inclusive higher education system that prioritizes equal opportunity and excellence in research and academics. We can celebrate many of the achievements of this system over the past 60 years, including a reputation for excellence in research and rankings in the top 10 public universities in America. The University of California has produced about 7% of Nobel Prize winners. The world and state, however, have changed significantly since its introduction. While the California of 2022 is more diverse than the California of 1960, it is also more unequal in terms of wealth and income. While California universities once led the world in student enrollment, educational attainment of the population, social equity, and affordability, the rest of the world has now caught up.
To achieve this original vision, California must focus on the future. Solving today's problems isn't enough. The challenges facing the state include demographic shifts, the climate crisis (which will place greater burdens on state and local budgets and cause economic and societal disruptions), the spread of disinformation, the erosion of trust in science and traditional sources of expertise, and the fraying connection between education and economic security. We need future-ready actions and solutions to address the changes, challenges, and opportunities that the higher education system will face over the next decade and beyond.
Institute for the Future is the world’s leading futures thinking organization. For over 50 years, businesses, governments, and social impact organizations have depended upon IFTF global forecasts, custom research, and foresight training to navigate complex change and develop world-ready strategies. IFTF methodologies and toolsets yield uncommonly coherent views of transformative possibilities across all sectors that together support a more sustainable future. Institute for the Future is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, California.
College Futures Foundation is an organization that believes in the transformative power of educational opportunity for individuals, our economy, and our society, and works to ensure that the pathway to a college degree and a better life is clear and open to the diverse students of California. College Futures partners with organizations and leaders across the state to catalyze systemic change, increase college degree completion, and close equity gaps, so that the vision of a seamless, student-centered educational path to opportunity becomes a reality—one that’s available to every student, regardless of zip code, skin color, or income. Learn more at www.collegefutures.org.