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The California State University system Board of Trustees recently voted to apply new general education requirements for transfer students to first-time freshmen, as well, to create a simpler, unified general education pathway, EdSource reported.

The new requirements reduce the number of general education credits required from 39 to 34. They do so by cutting out additional arts and humanities classes and “lifelong learning and self-development” classes, a controversial decision to some faculty members and students. The requirements include an additional lab class.

Trustee Jack Clarke Jr. told EdSource that the decision to apply the requirements to freshmen was partly born out of a concern that “if we have one path for community college transfers and one path for those students who begin with us, that there might be a feeling of inequity.”

The new general education pathway, called the California General Education Transfer Curriculum, was initially proposed in 2022 as a part of legislation to reform students’ transfer experiences to public universities in the state. The curriculum, which goes into effect in fall 2025, was developed by the academic senates for the University of California, Cal State and the California Community College systems, EdSource reported. However, while faculty members support these requirements for transfer students, some balk at applying them to freshmen for fear it will limit valuable classes, among other concerns.

Beth Steffel, chair of the Cal State system academic senate, told EdSource that even if students can take courses that are no longer required as electives, these courses still risk being cut altogether because of “resource constraints.”

Cal State system chancellor Mildred García said critical faculty and student opinions were taken into consideration but told the outlet that she believes a unified general education pathway ultimately “advances our mission of student success for all.”

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