Unable to alleviate the university’s $813 million system-wide budget deficit, University of California President Mark G. Yudof is suggesting a dramatic increase in student fees to help bridge the budget chasm.
This proposal — discussed at the recent Board of Regents meetings and set for a vote in November — comes amidst chaotic times at the UC. Yudof’s proposal calls for a 30 percent increase in undergraduate tuition fees by the 2010-11 school year. This fee hike, if passed, will be the ninth time in seven years that the UC Regents would have approved an increase in undergraduate tuition fees. To add to that, UC employees are expressing discontent about new furlough plans and layoffs and many have opted to join a planned walkout on the first day of classes, September 24.
Under Yudof’s plan, a 15 percent increase in fees would be effective Spring of 2010 and an additional 15 percent spike would be implemented in Fall 2010. According to UC spokesperson Leslie Sepuka, this means that tuition would be raised to $8,373 starting Spring 2010 and to $10,302 for 2010-11.
Increased revenue from tuition fees — which could generate $75 million next year and an additional $187 million the following year — will help stem the University’s bleeding finances but cannot compensate for the entirety of the budget gap, Sepuka said.
“None of [the solutions can individually] save our problem,” Sepuka said. “Only when combined with additional measures can they together address the shortfall.”
This proposed jump in undergraduate fees is just one uncomfortable position that the UC is in. Not only are UC students being challenged by the effect of the budget deficit, UCSB Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Paul Desruisseaux said, but UC employees are also hurting.
“The student fee increases that were approved by the regents last spring account for 25 percent of the UC budget reduction,” Desruisseaux said. “Another 25 percent is covered by faculty and staff reductions in salary. The other 50 percent is left by the campuses to deal with in terms of elimination of positions.”
In fact, Sepuka said, faculty furloughs and pay cuts alone have garnered $184 million for the UC system.
“Basically it’s a tiered plan,” Sepuka said. “Pay cuts are dependent on how much you make. If it’s less than $40,000, staff must take 11 furlough days, a four percent cut. If you’re at the top of scale, it’s a 10 percent cut.”
Additionally, numerous UC employees have been laid off and staff and administrative positions have been eliminated and subjected to deferred hiring, Sepuka said. Across the UC, 884 people were laid off and 1,951 positions were eliminated last year, she noted. This year, the UC Office of the President is projecting that five campuses will dismiss an additional 1,006 people and eradicate another 1,919 positions. Furthermore, seven campuses also delayed the hiring of 633 positions last term and six campuses anticipate postponing the hiring of 951 more positions.
From service workers to senior administrators, workforce reductions have spread through all levels, UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang said in an e-mail.
“The effects are being felt in every department and program,” Yang said in an e-mail. “Last year, we reduced our staff by 235 full-time equivalent positions, or FTEs, including layoffs, eliminating unfilled positions and reducing time. Even more layoffs are expected this year. For example, two of our five vice chancellors recently retired and for the foreseeable future, we will leave those positions unfilled to save money.”
The UCSB campus has also implemented a Voluntary Separation Program, which offers staff the option of slightly enhanced severance pay if they choose to retire early, Desruisseaux said. According to Yang, 54 employees are leaving the university next month under the program.
Aside from fees, furloughs and lay offs, Desruisseaux said, class sizes are also being increased in order to save money, and the campus might even see additional impacts in the coming Winter and Spring Quarters.
“All class sizes are being increased incrementally this year,” Desruisseaux said. “Seminar classes are going to be going up 11.5 percent, by about 16-18 students. Lecture classes — 5 percent, about 63-66 students and labs 7.3 percent.”
Not only are class sizes bound to increase, but Yang said the number of courses offered at the university are likely to decrease due to faculty vacancies that will not be filled this year.
“While we want to find creative ways to maintain the academic quality of our campus, we are deeply concerned about the recent trend of increased class sizes, reduced class availability and increased faculty workload,” Yang said in an e-mail. “Last year we slowed down, almost to a halt, our faculty recruitment searches that were needed to replace faculty members who had retired or left.”
Despite all the sacrifices, Desruisseaux said the administration hopes to maintain the quality of education offered at UCSB.
“Our campus has always stated that it’s determined to keep cuts away from educational core,” Desruisseaux said. “The faculty, deans and administration are determined to see that there isn’t any erosion in quality, but it’s a challenge, I’ll tell you that.”