CSUF president credits faster graduation rates to Graduation Initiative 2025

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President Virjee shares his vision for the future of Graduation Initiative 2025.
(Joshua Arief Halim / Daily Titan)

President Fram Virjee advocated for the Graduation Initiative 2025 at the ASI Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 29.

The initiative was introduced in 2016 to increase graduation rates throughout the California State University system while getting rid of opportunity and achievement gaps, according to the CSU website.

This mandate encourages students to take 15 units per semester instead of 12 which can allow students to graduate much earlier, to the proposed four years instead of five.

“[Taking fewer classes] delays their opportunity to graduate, start their career, help their families and develop their own financial independence, and move forward.”Fram Virjee

Virjee said that students taking 15 units a semester had GPAs that were either equal to or slightly above those of students taking 12 units.

What we saw was students that take a full load tend to be more organized, tend to be more committed to school, tend to keep busy and concentrate on school more than students that take less units,” Virjee said.

Virjee also stated that it’s advantageous for the students, as they’re able to graduate sooner.

“[Taking fewer classes] delays their opportunity to graduate, start their career, help their families and develop their own financial independence, and move forward,” Virjee said.

Tuition for one semester covers 12 units, or four classes, which is full-time. Taking extra classes is technically free because semester tuitions automatically cover four classes, Virjee said.

While it is beneficial to students, the initiative can hurt the school’s budgets, said Virjee, due to the fact that a higher percentage of students are taking more courses and the school doesn’t have the revenue to make up for them.

Historically, Cal State Fullerton has received the lowest funding per student in the CSU  system even though it is the university with one of the highest number of enrolled students.

Governor Gavin Newsom recently proposed increasing the CSU budget by $300 million. A spokesperson for the governor said the proposal was made because Newsom recognized the CSU’s successful graduation rates.

In 2017-2018 academic year, 6,660 additional students graduated compared to the previous year, according to the CSU website.

Also, the more students take extra classes and graduate earlier, the more space is freed up for more students to be able to attend CSUF, Virjee said.

Last year alone generated more than 75,000 applications. About 8,500 students were accepted, which is about 10 percent of applicants.

Last semester, students from Cal State Northridge protested outside the Chancellor’s office in Long Beach over concerns that the initiative would eliminate cultural studies as a general education requirement and a major.

Virjee said he is still trying to find out if taking general education classes is interfering with students’ ability to graduate on time, adding that he wants to hear what students think about the GE requirements.

Isabel Rodriguez, a member on the Board of Directors, said this is the first she’s heard of the mandate change and doubts she’s the only one. She asked Virjee how he plans on getting student input if most students are unaware of the change.

The academic senate is implementing a GE task force and planning public forums to get student involvement, Virjee replied.

Despite the initiative, Virjee said the act of graduating, no matter how long it takes, is a success story in itself.

“Every student is an individual, and especially for our students who work or our students who have significant outside commitments,” Virjee said. “It’s not possible for them to take the 15 units and they’re still equally committed.”

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