The state’s public higher education segments periodically create new degree programs and schools, and each segment has internal procedures for reviewing and authorizing them. State law delegates the state’s oversight of proposals to the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) but their role is only advisory and limited to certain proposals. In 2007 CPEC determined that a new law school proposed for University of California (UC) Irvine was unnecessary and duplicative. The opening of the new law school this fall despite CPEC’s objections calls into question the ability of the state’s approval process to prevent unnecessary or nonpriority programs and schools. In this report, we examine a number of new programs and schools that have been approved in the last few years to determine the efficacy of the state’s approval process. We conclude that there are several structural changes that are needed to improve the approval process including (a) measuring supply and demand in major fields, (b) identifying the extent to which proposals fit with the state's priorities and resources, and (c) increasing oversight from the Legislature.

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