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COVID-19 and Budget Woes Are Changing What ‘Back to School’ Means at Cal State Campuses

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As 480,000 California State University students prepare to log on for the start of a new academic year, the coronavirus crisis has produced uneven effects throughout the system on enrollment, budgets and even the number of students permitted to take in-person classes.

Some campuses, particularly in the north, are struggling with enrollment, while in the south campuses see little to no change. Budget cuts have some universities considering layoffs and course reductions, while others are holding steady. And with 23 campuses in 18 counties, some colleges will offer more in-person classes and services than others.

The Cal State system was one of the first to announce, in May, that it would begin the fall semester almost entirely online. Days later, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a 10% state budget reduction to all three systems of public higher education in California, prompting campuses to grapple with how to make cuts.

All of the L.A.-area CSU campuses — Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Northridge and Pomona — say they are projecting steady enrollment compared with a year ago. With about half their revenue coming from tuition and fees, that ensures some stability, though campuses are still limiting travel, freezing hiring and laying off some employees.

“I am confident that we will deliver the same level of service to our students in the classroom and outside the classroom as we have delivered in the past,” said President Framroze Virjee of Fullerton, the system’s largest college and one of its most competitive. “I don’t know that we will be able to do that in future years, but for this year I am sure of it.”

Virjee added that his college, which expects to exceed last fall’s enrollment of 39,868, has no plans to cut classes. Continue reading in the Los Angeles Times