With the UC facing a $300 million funding gap this year, and $375 million more if Proposition 30 does not pass this November, the UC Board of Regents wasted little time fleshing out alternative financial strategies in their end-of-summer meeting.
During the largely open-session retreat, which took place from Sept. 11–13, the board discussed the controversial possibility of raising the UC-wide, out-of-state student ceiling from its current 10 percent to 20 percent.
Since 24,000 California resident UC students are currently un-funded from the state — and that the UC’s policy is to prevent out-of-state students from displacing state-funded California students —Executive Vice President Peter Taylor recommended the regents consider raising the current ceiling on out of state students to generate more revenue given that every 1,000 full-time, out-of-state students enrolled at UC generates $23 million.
Student Regent Jonathan Stein commented that out-of-state students are distributed unevenly among the campuses, adding also that out-of-state students bring little diversity to UC campuses.
“There’s a sorting [between the campuses] going on,” Stein said. “In an acknowledgement of financial realities, we can use this as a partial solution to the budget problem — but do so in a way that enables us to bring that percentage back down … so that we don’t perpetually institute a new floor on our out-of-state percentages.”
Regent Eddie Island said that increasing out-of-state enrollment is “changing fundamentally the mission that we have.”
“California taxpayers have invested billions of dollars over the hundred plus years of [the UC’s] existence,” Island said, “and we now take this California resource and we sell it to the highest bidder … the need to educate Californians is so much greater.”
But because the mission of UC had been created when the university received a great deal of its funding from the state, keeping that mission without such funding isn’t possible, Regent Hadi Makarechian said.
Regarding the transfer of financial aid responsibility from tuition revenue to corporate partnership and private philanthropy, Chairman of the UC Board of Regents Sherry Lansing, who called for the September regents’ meeting, applauded efforts to generate financial aid for middle-class students.
“We have not been dormant and really have been working on this,” Lansing said.
Regent Stein said UC should be “incredibly careful” about accepting private donations, reasoning that some donors will want to give to specific campuses, when corporate giving should go toward the general good.
UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, in attendance with other campus chancellors, commented that a similar proposal to hire more lecturers—who operate under a fraction of the costs and benefits that tenured professors receive—would tarnish UCSC’s status as a world-class research university if it displaced qualified professors.
Several ideas anchored in an accelerated UC-degree strategy, including unconventional class times and disincentives for longer-track times, had “low financial value” according to the presentation. UC Provost Aimée Dorr said that while the savings “may not help campuses, [they] will certainly help families.”
At future meetings, the regents expect a more complete report of what an electronically-augmented UC education could look like.
Regent Norm Pattiz said technology was important.
“The students — the people who are going to be coming into our universe — know more about this [e-communication] stuff than we do,” Pattiz said. “So if we really want to be democratic about our approach … we can ill afford to waste a moment on seeing how we can utilize this [technology] to solve the problems of access to UC. It may even be a place where we can make money.”
Attending her first regents meeting, chair of UCSC Student Union Assembly Nwadiuto (DT) Amajoyi thanked the board for “turning over every rock before just [calling] it a loss,” and urged them to keep in mind the student-centric goals and standards of UC, regardless of the nearly $1 billion state funding cuts made over the last four years.
“I was a tour guide for a couple of years at UC Santa Cruz, and we had to learn 14 pages worth of facts about why UCSC was so great. While I agree with a lot of them … it’s the people that make us great,” Amajoyi said. “Your first priority should be students like me — students from under-resourced communities who just want to do a good job.”
Amajoyi said that the discussed differential tuition rates and cuts to student-initiated outreach programs weren’t in the best interests of students and their families, who she said had long made sacrifices to stay in the system.
The next UC Board of Regents meeting will be held November 13-15 at UC San Francisco at Mission Bay