The UC Regents voted last month to increase student tuition for Spring Quarter and decrease the budget mid-year.

At the last Regents meeting Dec. 16, the Regents voted 11-4 in favor of both increasing the cost of tuition by $135 per student for Spring Quarter and accepting a revised budget proposed by Gov. Gray Davis Dec. 10. With these cuts, UC Office of the President said the University’s 2002-03 State General fund budget would total $3,149.7 billion.

The Spring Quarter fee increase is the first resident-student tuition hike in eight years and tuition is expected to increase again next year. Students in several professional schools will also experience fee hikes ranging from $150 to $400 per-student this spring. Non-resident tuition was increased earlier this year to fund outreach programs.

According to UCOP the increase in student fees will raise about $28 million, one-third of which will go towards financial aid. The remaining two-thirds will offset a $19 million reduction in unallocated funds.

UC President Richard Atkinson said the tuition hike is necessary to prevent funding cuts to instructional programs or decreased enrollment.

“Our top priority must be preserving access and quality in the instructional program. None of us want to see enrollment caps, reductions in class offerings or other obstacles that will impede the timely graduation of students. We must preserve access for all UC-eligible students, and we must provide them with the high-quality education expected of the University,” Atkinson said.

Along with the tuition hike and reduction in unallocated funds, the Regents adopted mid-year budget alterations, cutting the budget by $74.2 million for the 2002-03 year.

One of the hardest hit areas of the budget is general administration, academic administration and libraries, which combined will lose $20 million in funding. According to a UCOP press release, each campus will determine how to achieve its required budget decrease in this area. The budget for UC libraries was already decreased $29 million in 2002-03. Student services is also being cut by $6.3 million.

The research budget was decreased by $18 million for 2002-03; however, this money will come from unspent prior-year funds from programs targeted by Davis last year including labor research, substance abuse research and US-Mexico research. Previous reductions to research this year totaled $32 million. Another program with unspent funds, the Advanced Placement online program, will also have its prior-year savings of $4 million revoked.

“These programs received significant augmentations in a short period of time and ramped up more gradually as they established their programs, leaving them with some unspent savings. The funding amounts targeted from these programs can be recaptured without interfering with the current service level of the program,” a report released to the committee on finance Dec. 9 stated.

K-12 outreach is losing another $3.3 million this spring – a 5 percent reduction in funding. Outreach programs already lost $12 million this year; however, $4.3 million dollars of this was reintroduced by increasing non-resident tuition $1,305 per-person for undergraduates and $428 per-person for graduate students. Public service will also be cut $2.5 million. The K-12 Internet program will also be cut $1.1 million.

All of the budget cuts were initially recommended by Davis on Dec. 10 when he released a plan for $10 billion in additional state budget cuts for this fiscal year. His final budget proposal, in which he faces a predicted $21 billion deficit, will be released Jan. 10.

“The governor is expected to outline more cuts in January, when he issues his State budget proposal for next year. We will continue to make an aggressive case for the University’s needs and for its critical impact on the State of California … ” Atkinson said in the Dec. 12 faculty newsletter.

In the last two academic years Davis and the state of California have failed to provide $237 million dollars promised to UC under the Partnership Agreement, a pact made between UC and the state to increase performance and accountability in exchange for increased funding. The Dec. 9 UCOP report states that more drastic budget cuts may be in store for UC next year.

“There can be no doubt that the cuts this year and next year will be very painful,” Atkinson said at the last regents’ meeting. “At the same time, we realize that we must play a role in resolving the state’s budget crisis.”

The UCOP report stated the University is looking at a variety of options for implementing the mid-year cuts in the short-term, including hiring freezes, furloughs, salary reductions and layoffs, if necessary.

“I know that the budget cuts – particularly next year’s cuts – will cause great uncertainty and anxiety among the University’s faculty and staff,” Atkinson said. “I want them to know that we will do everything possible to minimize the cuts and their potential impact on jobs. The high quality work of our staff and faculty is the University’s most important asset.”