The University of California Commission on the Future is continuing to plot new ways to alleviate the university’s financial woes this year by placing some out-of-the box remedies on the table.
Created as an initiative to identify and implement strategies for easing the UC’s financial burden without compromising its quality of education, the commission’s committees are considering ideas ranging from instituting online curricula to upping out-of-state undergraduate enrollment. The five working groups will be analyzing the size and shape, education and curriculum, access and affordability, funding strategies and research aspects of the UC in order to accurately assess the university’s needs.
Although online courses are rarely offered in an institution as prestigious as the University of California, UC Office of the President Vice Provost for Academic Planning, Programs and Coordination Daniel Greenstein said the option may help alleviate the impact of the current state deficit.
“There is a real possibility to improve the financial situation through online education,” Greenstein said.
However, he said it is vital that online courses be on par with a regular in-class UC curricula.
UCOP spokesperson Steve Montiel said increasing the percentage of out-of-state students is another possible solution to the financial predicament. As of fall 2009, only 6.6 percent of UC undergraduate students were California non-residents — compared to other schools in the Association of American Universities’ average of 22.2 percent.
Montiel attributed this low figure to the fact that the UC system has always placed a strong emphasis on in-state residents.
“In the past, there has not been much of an effort to attract out-of-state students,” Montiel said.
Aside from its financial benefits, Montiel said the plan to attract more students from across the nation could also help diversify the university as a whole.
Other efforts proposed by the Commission on the Future are more politically rooted. These efforts include the Advocacy Campaign that encourages government to prioritize funding higher education. The UC is also reevaluating its commitment to the California Master Plan for Higher Education, which binds the university to admit the top 12.5 percent of the state’s high school graduates.
Additionally, the committee dismissed the idea of differential fees, which would force campuses with higher application rates to charge greater fees.
Greenstein said differential fees could cause rigid stratification as well as steer the UC system on the path to privatization.
“We haven’t hit the ceiling with fees,” Greenstein said. “Yet, to increase fees separately would in turn stratify campuses and potentially send a message that one campus is better than another.”