Not One More Tuition Increase

Rising costs met with decreasing educational value

2360

The UC is on their way to finalizing another tuition increase for out-of-state students for the 2018-19 school year. In May, the UC is scheduled to vote on an percent increase for in-state tuition. If either pass, it would mark the second consecutive tuition increase in two years, continuing a decades-long assault on accessible higher education.

These constant hikes are far from surprising in the increasingly privatized, top-heavy administrative model of higher education. But these rising costs are still a grave burden for students. Since 1868, the UC transgressed from a free institute of research and higher education to an institution that charges $13,900 annually for in-state tuition, and $40,644 for out-of state tuition. UC students also graduate with an average of $33,000 in loan debt.

As the UC regents continue to financially burden students, the education we receive is in steep decline. Lecture halls are filled to the edge, students and non-tenure faculty are struggling to find secure housing and food sources. Meanwhile, UC system’s relevance on the national and international stage is diminishing.

According to a survey released on Feb. 28 by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the UC system’s global ratings dropped in 80 categories and improved in only 24 across nine UC campuses in more than 20 subjects.

The UC, a public institution grounded in making California higher education accessible, is cutting off access to college for thousands of students. Even for students who can afford to stay, the value of their degree is diminishing at the cost of the university’s poor leadership and lack of resources for faculty and students.

Illustration by Lizzy Choi

Administrators have been quick to blame the state of California and its limited funding. In part, they’re not wrong — the state share of costs per student dropped from $14,690 in 1996 to $7,160 in 2017. But the UC’s bloated administrative staff and prioritization of their six-figure salaries administrative positions over faculty and student resources cannot be ignored.

The number of campus leadership members making at least $500,000 annually grew by 14 percent from 2014-15 and the system’s administrative ranks swelled by 60 percent over the last decade. This far outpaces the growth of tenure professors and researcher positions.

While administrators enjoy six-figure salaries, comfortable office spaces and lucrative pensions and raises, students struggle with a lack of classes and teacher support.

The seemingly endless hiring of associate vice chancellors, campus provosts and executive directors does next to nothing to improve quality of education or the efficiency of the university and everything to compound administrative excess.

In fact, an assessment of the UC Berkeley bureaucracy found more than half of all managers — about 1,000 — supervised three or fewer employees. At least 471 were in charge of exactly one person each.

The already evident gap between educators and administrators is growing severely as many professors and researchers are simply leaving the UC for better paid and better resourced universities and institutions. At UCSC, there are at least 27 tenure track faculty vacant positions posted in departments across campus.

But as the UC’s scramble for funds to pay sky high administrative salaries, the answer to the UC’s financial woes is clear. Rather than increasing tuition and financial burdens for tens of thousands of students, the UC needs to restructure its bloated bureaucracy and refocus money back on students.

Instead campuses, including UCSC, have doubled down on its oversized bureaucratic model, largely detached from student issues, by turning to long-term privatized funding options, such as those pursued by the executive vice chancellor’s Strategic Academic Planning (SAP) initiative. UCSC’s SAP initiative aims to prioritize certain academic areas that provide the most prestige and attract outside funding as a way to ensure the campus’s future.

This risks leaving behind less lucrative non-STEM majors like philosophy and community studies while focusing STEM majors on financially beneficial research and prestige instead of educational values.

Plans like SAP are another departure from the university’s mission. Top paid administrators are prioritizing particular areas of the university for quick financial gain at the risk of ensuring a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education the UC is expected to provide to the California public.

Our university cannot expect us to pay more while it strips down our educational experience for monetary gain. Students cannot be expected to withstand yet another tuition increase as our education and university priorities become open auction to private funders. Enough is enough.

We as students and community members need to ban against this injustice. Students have already successfully forced the regents to delay a tuition increase vote in January through protest and demonstrations. In the following months and upcoming regents meetings we can not let up pressure against this wasteful and detrimental leadership structure.

It’s time to unite to fight against the privatization and soaring costs of the UC. No more administrative growth. No more underfunded classrooms and faculty hiring. And above all, no more tuition hikes.