City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez is asking whether or not the City University of New York (CUNY) can handle a growth in enrollment. According to Rodriguez, since 1990, undergraduate enrollment has grown by 42 percent, while inflation-adjusted state support has dropped by a similar number.
The councilman, along with several officials from CUNY, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance Richard Alvarez and Director for Admission John Mogulescu, at a recent hearing examined the impact of enrollment increases at CUNY and if the system can handle the growth.
Rodriguez, who serves as the City Council’s Higher Education Committee chair, said that CUNY needs more funding from the state in order to handle the increase this fall. Several students, CUNY administrators and union representatives testified at the hearing about the need for additional resources.
“One teacher at Borough of Manhattan Community College said that in her science lab, she can only accommodate 24 students but has 27 in her class,” Rodriguez said. “We need to support the students in a better capacity, and we need to provide more capital support for CUNY to be able to have more services.”
With the issue of overcrowding in New York City public schools becoming a problem, Rodriguez said that CUNY is going through something similar. He also linked retention rates within CUNY with overcrowding and a lack of resources. Numbers reveal that close to 30 percent of CUNY students graduate in six years.
Rodriguez wants Mayor Michael Bloomberg to give $71 million to CUNY by late June, which would match what the state is giving. CUNY enrollment is expected to be 272,000 for this fall. CUNY overall enrolls a large number of Black and Latino students.
“Imagine if we could get $142 million for CUNY, what we could do,” Rodriguez said. “It would allow CUNY to improve in science and math so they could give the students what they need.”
Likewise, more remedial services are needed at community colleges in order to better prepare students for advanced college work. Only 13 percent of Black and Latino students in New York City schools are deemed college-ready.
“CUNY is expecting 30,000 more students in the fall, and many of those students are not college-ready,” he said. “We believe that lower retention rates can have an impact on students applying for college, and some students just aren’t being motivated.”