The UC Board of Regents met yesterday in San Francisco to discuss potential increases in tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year following California Governor Jerry Brown’s state budget approval last week.
The Board of Regents will deliberate on several agenda items through Thursday at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay Community Center, including a vote on an additional 9.6 percent tuition raise to offset nearly $140 million of the approved budget’s $650 million state funding reduction. The newest fee hike proposal is in addition to an 8 percent increase the Regents approved last November for Fall 2011.
According to Steve Montiel, media specialist for UC Office of the President, the fee hikes are necessary in lieu of state financing to maintain the university system’s educational standards.
“We wish there was a level of funding from the state that would not make these increases necessary, but unfortunately there has been steady state disinvestment in higher education over the past twenty years,” Montiel said. “Our priorities are quality, and to preserve access to our UC-eligible Californians regardless of their income. It’s a tough situation and no one likes it.”
California 35th District Assemblyman Das Williams said the significant cut in state funding is partly attributable to bipartisan disagreements over Brown’s plan to extend expiring taxes through a statewide vote.
“I am so angry about the state being forced into this situation, I can hardly describe it to you,” Williams said. “The fact that the Republican Party continues to prevent a vote by the people to be able to maintain the existing tax rate; to think that one cent of sales tax is more important than the future of public education in the state makes me very angry and very disappointed.”
Williams said students must reach out to the public for support in increased state financial aid for the UC system.
“What usually happens is that the cuts come and [UC President Mark] Yudof tries to raise fees and then the unions and the student groups direct their energy toward fighting the administration,” Williams said. “What we should do instead is dedicate that energy to bringing the message of higher education to the public to approve a tax for higher education.”
In addition to voting on tuition increases, the Regents will review project reports on the Working Smarter initiative — a program improving the UC payroll system’s administrative efficiency within five years to save $500 million annually — and the annual accountability report of the UC’s use of taxpayer money.
Montiel said the UC system faces a total $1 billion budget shortfall due to unfunded cost increases from factors such as increased financial aid for low-income students and expanded employee retirement plans and health benefits.
“Cost-cutting and revenue-generating measures are a place to fill three quarters of the billion-dollar budget gap and President Yudof is recommending to the Board of Regents that roughly one quarter of the shortfall be offset with tuition and fee increases,” Montiel said.
The 2011-2012 academic year will mark the first time students provide more funding than the state towards the UC system, effectively privatizing the institution.
According to Ahmed Mostafa, Associated Students external vice president of statewide affairs, Regents’ decision to implement greater tuition costs reflects a lack of prioritization toward affordable higher education.
“The problem is that [the Regents] are treating the UC like a business,” Mostafa said. “They are sacrificing access and affordability in exchange for quality. They are treating the UC like it’s a business, not a service to the people of California. Education is no longer a right — they want to make education a privilege.”
For more information about the agenda for the Regent’s upcoming meeting, visit