Following a $650 million cut in UC funding in California’s recently approved state budget, the UC Board of Regents approved an additional 9.6 percent increase in tuition — to be implemented Fall 2011 — at its July 14 meeting at UC San Francisco Mission Bay.

The latest hike, passed by a 14-4 vote, supplements last November’s 8 percent hike and brings a resident undergraduate’s total tuition and fees to almost $12,200 a year. Last year, the UC Office of the President instituted the Working Smarter program, which has saved the UC system $157 million over the past year and aims to generate $500 million over the next five years by streamlining administrative operations.

According to UCOP spokesperson Leslie Sepuka, the additional 9.6 percent tuition increase will preserve the quality of the university system while the initiative will provide
another means for the UC system to work around inevitable cuts from the state.

“All of these things are basically to protect the universities in the face ofcuts — specifically a $650 million massive cut,” Sepuka said. “Well, we would like nothing more than to receive full funding and have tuition always be low and stable. But we’ve done our best with the economy the way that it is.”

Student protests led by the UC Student Association are accredited with preventing a 5.9 percent trigger increase in fees for next year. UCSA Communications and Organization Director Darius Kemp said it is of the utmost importance that the Regents seeks alternate sources of revenue.

“We have spent a considerable amount of our time and funding in protesting the recent fee increases,” Kemp said. “The UC Student Association is well aware that the system has been cut. However, we believe that the Regents should work with us in order to find other ways to increase revenue for the schools. There are a variety of other options to bring in more money.”

According to Sepuka, the UC system plans to expand the amount and accessibility of financial aid in an effort to help students with their financial burdens.

“We’ve increased the ceiling of the Blue and Gold Plan to $80,000,” Sepuka said. “We’re trying to mitigate the effects [of budget cuts] by having robust financial aid available to students.”

Second-year political science major Jack Gaylord, an employee at the Associated Students Office of the President, said the tuition debate should be shifted toward obtaining funding from the state legislature and lobbying the Regents to reduce students’ role in absorbing the cuts.

“The Regents are putting the most emphasis on preserving the academic quality and by doing this, they are sacrificing affordability,” Gaylord said. “I
think that their priority should be that students are actually able to afford to go to a UC. Obviously, the best-case scenario would be for the schools to receive more funding from the state.”

Ahmed Mostafa, A.S. Vice President of External Affairs, said though UC administrators have chosen quality over affordability, classes and services remain at risk to be cut and students will likely see no increase in class availability.

“People often get confused and think that because we are now paying more tuition, class availability will be okay,” Mostafa wrote in an e-mail. “Unfortunately, this is not the case; class availability will worsen as students will have to crash classes much more often than they already do, while paying considerably much more for their education.”