Understanding the Crisis at UC (2 page handout)

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Why are student fees skyrocketing at the same time courses are being cut and faculty and staff furloughed, reducing classes and services to students?

Throughout his term in office, Governor Schwarzenegger has cut state support for higher education and sought to shift most of its costs to its immediate users: students and their families.

In 2004, California’s higher education leaders accepted the Governor’s framework.  The President of UC, Bob Dynes, and his counterpart at CSU, Charles Reed, signed the “Higher Education Compact: Agreement Between Governor Schwarzenegger, the University of California, and the California State University 2005-06 through 2010-11,” which represented a fundamental shift in the model for supporting higher education in California. This abandoned the view of higher education as a public good and redefined it as a private good.  The University accepted a $169 million budget cut (out of its $4.4 billion core budget) and committed to fundamentally shift financing away from the state general fund and onto private sources such as student fees and wealthy donors. The Schwarzenegger-Dynes-Reed Compact states, “In order to help maintain quality and enhance academic and research programs, UC will continue to seek additional private resources and maximize other fund sources available to the University to support basic programs.”

The large annual fee increases over recent years are not short term responses to unanticipated fiscal problems, but are an implementation of the Compact’s plan to increase fees every year at least as fast as the rise in personal income, which is about twice the rate of inflation. Because incomes have increased mostly among the wealthy, this policy made higher education less affordable for most Californians.

The fee increases, while large, have not compensated for the cuts that UC and CSU accepted.  The result: a large drop in the money available to finance core functions. The net result has been a substantial and accelerating decline in the quality of our students’ educational experience — growing class sizes, fewer courses, greater difficulty enrolling in courses, fewer teaching assistants and less student access to labs.

If the Compact was so bad, why did UC and CSU leaders accept it?

The primary reason was that Governor Schwarzenegger was threatening even bigger cuts if UC and CSU leaders rejected the Compact. More importantly, cognizant UC (and, presumably CSU) budget officials knew that there would be a major budget crisis starting around 2008, and believed that the Compact would protect UC and CSU from large cuts at that time.  However, when the anticipated budget crisis came in 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger simply reneged on his own deal and imposed another massive $1.4 billion cut in 2008 and 2009.

Isn’t the University of Michigan a good model for UC in the face of inevitably declining state support?

When the University of Michigan moved to a semi-privatized model, it reduced access for residents to allow greater enrollment of non-residents who are charged much more for tuition. Admission standards were relaxed to increase out-of-state enrollment. Over half of Michigan’s 2003 freshman class came from families with six-figure incomes in a state where only 13% of families earn that much. The result has been significantly diminished access for the residents of Michigan, especially the most disadvantaged, and a reduction in the quality of the University as seen in its drop in rankings by U.S. News and World Report.

Why isn’t anyone in UC’s leadership effectively advocating for restoring the Master Plan and state funding?

The expectation at the UC Office of the President and among the Regents has been that state funding will continue to fall. The policy focus of the Regents and other leaders has been to accommodate UC to a privatized model, which will mean continuing declines in quality and access.

The debate over public higher education should not be framed as a debate over how to allocate scarce state resources during difficult times, but as what it actually is: An ideological debate over the public value of higher education.

The central policy document guiding higher education policy in California has been the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, which specified the coordinated roles of UC, CSU and the community colleges and established the system that promised every California student an affordable (initially free) seat at an appropriate institution of higher education. The Master Plan clearly established higher education as a public good provided by the state for its citizens.

While fees have increased over time since then, the Compact represents the first time that UC accepted the idea that the costs of higher education should be shifted from public onto private sources.

The real question is: Should higher education be treated as a public good (as envisioned in the Master Plan for Higher Education) or should it be viewed as a private good to be paid for by its customers (students and their families) and voluntary private donors?

It is time for those in positions of power and responsibility at UC to advocate for real restoration of the Master Plan for Higher Education in a strong and consistent way.  This is the necessary first step in changing the political environment and rebuilding higher education as a public good for all Californians.

To learn more and get involved in the campaign to rebuild public higher education, visit www.keepcaliforniaspromise.org.

4 Responses to “Understanding the Crisis at UC (2 page handout)”

  1. UC graduate student says:

    Why does it seem like the elected officials want the general public to stay stupid and ignorant so we can’t pass any proper legislation or do anything effective while they are budding up with big business and making the poor poorer? Animal farm anyone?

  2. Prof. John F. Dewey says:

    Higher education is, of course for the public good but, nevertheless, it benefits more those who take it by providing them with a vehicle for a professional life with a higher and more reliable salary. My view is that, like in medicine, there should be a “co- pay “system,plus a scholarship system for clever students from poorer families. Students should pay a substantial amount for a high-quality UC education. Britain has realized this even to the extent that a putative socialist government has introduced quite high tuition fees. Higher education must not be regarded as a freebie but it should be available to all those who can benefit from it. I have taught and researched in many universities in the UK (Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, and Manchester) and the US (Columbia, Albany, and UC Davis); I can say, assuredly, that the most fulfilling period of my life with wonderful undergraduate and graduate students was in UC Davis., where students paid their ow way, worked hard, and played hard. I am now retired back in the UK but I think a lot about the US and UC Davis where I was so fulfilled by working with top-class, committed, students.

  3. Another Prof says:

    Prof. Dewey is mistaken — tuition in the UK for domestic students is about 3000L for an entire academic year, which is less than US$6000 and relative to US and now UC tuition is not high. It is high compared to most continental European systems which have maintained a level of access to be envied. For few people is $6000 a year or $10000 (what UC students are looking at) a freebie…and higher future incomes as a result of a university degree of course also mean higher future personal income taxes and larger contributions to the state coffers to help pay for the state subsidized portion of that education. In other words, it is already far from free when paying the tuition and when paying the taxes on one’s higher income after graduation.

    Moreover, unless Prof Dewey taught his students at Davis within the last 2 years or so, the very Davis students that he celebrates paid relatively little tuition while attending university compared to those today, and are in fact evidence that affordable access is so important. They were so good, not because they paid a lot of tuition, but because they didn’t have to.

  4. Propose that the UC system has that of the resource to empower students to finish HS and be ready for college work. Just learned of your “Keep California’s Promise” Would welcome your support as students take up the invitation to own this “org” Nationalyouthunion.org

    Simple plan beyond BLACK LIVES MATTER to build on that of the Dream, Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At one time there was a State Youth Council to the age of 25 under the Lt. Gov to which needs to be revisited. In place that of CCC the feeder system to the state and UC system. Power points and data base for students to source located within our http://www.linkedin.com/in/grupoamistad

    But a search for THE GRUPO AMISTAD VISION
    Please make known that the SSCCC is it’s own non profit and with 114 campus so propose that where the UCSC campus that a new WEST SIDE PROMISE NEIGHBORHOOD is a possibility. This Sunday: The NAACP Peace event will jump start this possibility.

    Thanks in advance for any support. For sure a visit to the FB for SSCCC will take you to the 10 State Wide Regions. With Equity that of common ground the strategy to raise monies for the four active caucus structures on the table: LGBTQ, Black, Latino, and Vet’s so but each within the Budget so have but $300 each and the 10 Regions each but $600. Propose that service learning and the network of campus institutions within that of the UC system have as you the aim to keep the Promise: Fine tune the idea of PROMISE HOODS and PROMISE BARRIO’S your very personal invitation. Revisit that of the 20,000 copies of the VALUE YOUTH BOOK paid for by CYA and establish the themes and brands in partnership and collaboration.

    LISTEN TO THE FUTURE! YOUTH POWER and outreach to neighborhoods as with the creation of local town and city YOUTH CITY COUNCIL’S that link up to the resource of higher education institutions. In Neward NJ that of the creation of a YOUTH MAYOR to which links up to where ever that of a UC campus so exists.

    My self do not seek monies or position but to live out my live as my hero Cesar E. Chavez and build on his community values key to which was service to others. At Stanford I so sources the GAY PEOPLES UNION at STANFORD and so ongoing volunteer action steps to go public with the commitment shared with you today.

    Please bring that asset of your network to the feeder student leadership of SSCCC direct. At Davis the former President and at UCSC that of before her and we all know of the UC – Mexico Initiative.

    But many do not know of the list serve http://www.borderpartnership.org and it located in San Diego so an action step to explore that of their BORDER BUZZ. The students for the National Youth Union can apply for that of a Fiscal Sponsorship and our brand of PESO’S IN THE POCKET can be a cornerstone for both sides of the border.

    More that anything I am a “Bridge Builder” and that of ongoing research so seek feedback and support as share your aim and mission as a volunteer 79 year young life long learner.

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