Recently, the UCSB Faculty Legislature made a resolution, which if passed, could ultimately force university students to financially assist nonresident graduate students with their tuition. On May 11, the UCSB Faculty Legislature voted in favor of a memorial abolishing systemwide nonresident tuition fees for its graduate students in attempt to attract more qualified students and researchers. Several other UCs have followed suit and the memorial will appear before the UC Regents at a later date. While the faculty and staff are correct when they say that the quality of campus research needs to improve, they unfortunately prove their point with their own lack of research on the issue.
Rather than checking the financial impacts of their own memorial, the faculty and staff are allowing the UC Regents to investigate the matter and come up with their own plan. This is tantamount to forcing the class nerd to do your homework, except, instead of picking the class nerd, you picked He-Man, and you picked him the day he broke up with his girlfriend and got evicted.
After all, the Regents have power and lots of it. They decide which UC programs can lose funding and which ones disappear off the face of the earth. For an issue that seems so important, the faculty and staff appear rather cavalier. Currently, the Faculty Legislature has not presented any plans on how to carry out their mission to abolish nonresident graduate tuition.
The UC Regents are not MacGyver. They cannot resolve our graduate student woes with just a toothpick and a Miles Davis record. If abolishing nonresident tuition requires the cutting of financial aid or the increase of student fees, the Regents will do it.
Furthermore, it would have been nice if the Faculty Legislature had communicated more with the university’s budgeting office to see if their memorial would cause any financial blows. UCSB Budget & Planning Assistant Chancellor Todd Lee said he could not comment on the financial impacts of the memorial because he has heard so little about it.
UCSB currently has 735 nonresident graduate students that collectively bring $7.9 million to the university. Their tuition becomes a portion of financial aid and UC-wide general operations, which pay for items such as class instruction and staff salaries. As Lee said, “If we don’t collect fees, we have less money … since we don’t know the details, we can’t say what the impacts will be.”
Thus, even though Faculty Legislature Chair Walter Yuen said the loss of nonresident graduate tuition revenue would most likely be minimal, none of us – including the Faculty Legislature – can really know for certain since the research is lacking.
According to a UC Office of the President administrator who wished to remain anonymous, the reason the UC has nonresidents pay extra tuition is because they do not pay in-state taxes. The administrator said the California taxes help make a UC education more affordable because they provide funding to resident students. Since nonresidents do not pay in-state taxes, the state must have restitution from its nonresident students. Otherwise, as the administrator said, “Campuses won’t be able to afford this.”
The faculty and staff should also take into consideration the state’s tight budget. As the rising cost of student fees has shown, it is usually the students who end up paying for these budgeting errors – and that’s not something anyone would like to continue seeing.
Including all expenses, state residents currently pay $9,122.64 for a regular three-quarter graduate school year at UCSB, while nonresidents pay $24,083.64. As Associate History Professor and Faculty Legislature member Randolph Bergstrom noted in an interview, “It has become almost impossible for graduate students to come here,” and he’s right.
It is a “recruitment process” and the university must look for the best possible students in order to have skilled researchers that generate revenue for both the university and the state. Most of these nonresidents end up staying in California and working at various medical industries and research institutions. However, the university also needs to maintain its promise to its Californian students in ensuring that a UC education remains affordable. While it would be nice to recruit a future Albert Einstein from Kentucky or a future Marie Curie from Michigan, such an endeavor should not come at the expense of the future Stephen Hawking from California.
Daily Nexus Opinion Editor Nick Durnhofer failed a “trust exercise” at a university retreat.