Council of UC Faculty Statement on Proposed Tuition Increases

The Council of UC Faculty Associations holds Governor Jerry Brown’s slashing of public higher education responsible for UC President Napolitano’s recent proposal to budget for 5% tuition increases every year for the next 5 years.

Raising tuition is not the solution. There is a better way: provide California students and their families high quality, affordable higher education, as defined by the California Master Plan for Higher Education.

The reality is that Governor Brown has not been willing to spend the necessary money to do so even though the cost to do so is surprisingly low.

Here are the financial facts:

• In 2001-02, Gov. Gray Davis provided $3.2 billion ($4.4 billion in 2014 dollars) to the University of California. Tuition was $3,964.

• On taking office in 2003, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut UC’s budget by 15% to $2.7 billion and pressed for rapid tuition hikes to shift costs on to students and their families. By the time Gov. Schwarzenegger left office in 2011, he was providing just $2.9 billion to UC. Tuition had tripled to $11,279.

• Brown cut UC’s provision to $2.4 billion in his first budget (2011-12).

• While Brown has provided small increases to UC in the last 3 years, his 2014-15 budget only includes $2.8 billion for UC, more than one-third less (in real dollars) than Gov. Davis provided more than a decade before.

• At the same time that governors have cut support for UC by one-third, the university’s student body has grown by nearly one-third: from 183,000 to 238,000 students as UC continued to meet its Master Plan obligations.

• While Governor Brown appealed to UC students to help pass Proposition 30 in 2012, he has only allocated 4.5% of the money it raised to UC.

UC’s leaders have responded to these unprecedented cuts by reducing budgets for teaching and research, boosting class sizes, shifting administrative tasks to faculty (leaving less time for students and research), admitting more out-of-state students, and massive tuition hikes that tripled tuition in 15 years.

Along with his legacy of high-speed trains and long-distance water tunnels, Governor Brown needs to restore the promise of the California Master Plan for Higher Education:

• He should budget for all public higher education, including the State University and Community College systems, at levels that will return them to where they were in 2001-2002, adjusted for inflation and student population growth.

• Tuition should not merely be capped but rolled back to 2001-2002 levels, inflation adjusted ($4,717 for the University of California, compared to the $13,860 planned for UC next year).

Unlike many dreams, offering affordable, high quality public higher education to all is a bargain. It would cost the median California household just $50 a year. (Details of calculation at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/3553/restore-2013-14.)

The UC Regents and President Napolitano must represent not only the institutional interests of UC students, staff and faculty but also the fundamental public interest of all Californians to restore one of the few fair-minded systems of advancement still open to anyone, from any background, who works hard and demonstrates talent.

How much will it cost us to restore public higher education in 2013-14

Read “Financial Options for Restoring Quality and Access to Public Higher Education in California: 2013-14” below or download a PDF of it. If you’re really a policy wonk, download the spreadsheets behind this report. Two typos were corrected as of November of 2014.


WORKING PAPER

FINANCIAL OPTIONS FOR RESTORING QUALITY AND ACCESS TO PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION IN CALIFORNIA: 2013-14

Stanton A. Glantz
Professor of Medicine
American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control
University of California San Francisco
Chair, University of California Systemwide Committee on Planning and Budget (2005-6)
Vice President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
glantz@medicine.ucsf.edu

Eric Hays
Executive Director of, Council of UC Faculty Associations
info@cucfa.org

(December, 2013)
Council of UC Faculty Associations
1270 Farragut Circle
Davis, CA 95618
Phone: (888) 826-3623

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

It is widely recognized that large reductions in state funding and sizeable increases in student fees have eroded quality and accessibility in California’s three-segment system of public higher education: the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. This report estimates what it would cost – through restored taxpayer funding or tuition increases — to restore the system’s historic quality while accommodating the thousands of qualified students excluded by recent budget cuts. This working paper considers state funding, student fees and accessibility to answer three basic questions about the public higher education system in California:

#1. How much would it cost taxpayers to push the “reset” button for public higher education, restoring access and quality (measured as per-student state support) while rolling back student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation?

Answer: It would cost taxpayers $6.9 billion.

#2. Absent restoration of taxpayer support for public higher education, how much more would student fees need to be increased to restore the level of per-student resources available in 2000-01?

Answer: UC fees would have to increase over the current year’s fees by $9,646 (to a total of $22,846 per year) and CSU fees would have to increase by $3,646 (to a total of $9,118 per year); CCC fees would not need to increase.

#3. If the Governor and Legislature were to decide to push the “reset” button, — reinstating the quality and accessibility standards of the Master Plan by returning state support and student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation — what would it cost the typical California taxpayer?

Answer: It would cost the median California taxpayer about $50.


Introduction:

Beginning with Governor Gray Davis’ 2001-2 budget year, accelerating with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Compact for Higher Education, [1] and continuing under Governor Jerry Brown, higher education in California has suffered large reductions in state funding. Governor Brown has begun to reinvest in higher education since the passage of proposition 30 last year, but these increases do not yet make up for the $1.8 billion cut Brown made to California’s public higher education his first year as Governor. These reductions have effectively abandoned the California Master Plan for Higher Education [2] promise of high quality, low cost public higher education for all, through an articulated system consisting of the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. Over the past decade California has consistently spent less than most states per higher education student, and public higher education funding – even including massive tuition/fee increases – has fallen quickly in California relative to the United States as a whole in recent years.

 

figure1

Data: State Higher Education Executive Officers, http://www.sheeo.org/finance/shef-home.htm

 

In response to large cuts in state funding, fees at UC and CSU have increased much faster than at colleges in the US as a whole (Figure 2). While these fee increases have generally been framed as responses to the State’s immediate budgetary problems, they are also congruent with the explicit public policy choice, based on conservative free market principles and embodied in Governor Schwarzenegger’s Compact for Higher Education, to shift higher education from a public good provided by society as a whole through taxation to being a private good purchased through user fees.

 

figure2
 

This shift in public policy is stated explicitly in the 2004 Compact on Higher Education between Governor Schwarzenegger and the UC President and CSU Chancellor: “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. CSU will do the same in order to enhance the quality of its academic programs.” Until this point, the state was viewed as the primary source of support for “basic programs” with private sources being used for additional initiatives.

These rapid fee increases in California have been halted in recent years, but fees are still much higher at UC than they would have been if tuition had increased at the rate of the rest of US public 4-year schools.

This working paper seeks to tie together the three elements of change: cuts in state funding, fee increases, and declines in quality (measured as per student expenditures). It takes as its base year 2000-01, the last year that California higher education was reasonably financially intact before the recent large fee increases. This paper addresses three questions:

  1. How much would it cost taxpayers to push the “reset” button for public higher education, restoring access and quality (measured as per-student state support) while rolling back student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation?
  2. Absent restoration of taxpayer support for public higher education, how much more would student fees need to be increased to restore the level of per-student resources available in 2000-01?
  3. If the Governor and Legislature were to decide to push the “reset” button — reinstating the quality and accessibility standards of the Master Plan by returning state support and student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation — what would it cost the typical California taxpayer?

 

Answer No. 1: Returning quality and fees to the level of 2000-01 would cost taxpayers $6.9 billion.

By restoring state funding to 2000-01 levels, it would be possible to return student fees to the levels of 2000-01 (adjusted for inflation) while maintaining quality (measured as total per student funding). Specifically, annual fees at UC would be rolled back to $5,379 (from $13,200), for CSU to $2,495 (from $5,472) and CCC to $299 (from $920).

Table 1 shows the calculations that produced this number.[3] We begin with the numbers of full time equivalent (FTE) students in each of the three sectors of California higher education and total state general funds supplied to each sector,[4] then divide one by the other to obtain the state funding per student FTE. Next we adjust the 2000-01 dollar amounts for inflation to their equivalents for 2013-14 and subtract the actual levels of funding per student currently enrolled in each sector to determine the funding shortfall compared to 2000-01.

Restoring full state funding for existing enrollments would cost a total of $4.6 billion. These calculations do not tell the whole story, however, because all three sectors have responded to resource cuts by admitting fewer students than they would under the Master Plan. Providing funding to accommodate students who have been forced out of the higher education system would raise this number to $6.9 billion.

 

table1
 

Answer No. 2: Restoring the public higher education system for all students only by increasing student fees would require raising UC fees an additional $9,646 (to a total of $22,846 per year), and CSU fees by $3,646 (to $9,118 per year). CCC fees would not have to increase.

Table 2 outlines the calculations that led to these numbers. The overall approach is the same as in Table 1, except that rather than restoring per student total expenditures by increasing state support, it is done by increasing student fees. Calculations for UC and CSU assume that it continues its “high fee high aid” policy of allocating 33 percent of fees to student aid.[5] The total funding per student used as a measure of quality is the sum of state funding and net tuition and fees after deleting the fee amounts returned to aid.

 

table2
 

Answer No. 3: Restoring public higher education while returning student fees to 2000-01 levels would cost the median California taxpayer an additional $50.

Table 3 outlines these calculations. We obtained the distribution of taxes paid by adjusted gross income from the Franchise Tax Board for 2011[6] the most recent year available, then allocated the $6.9 billion it would cost to restore public higher education to 2000-01 proportionately across all taxpayers. Note that the categories are for individual filers (joint filers are counted twice to arrive at a count of individual filers), partnerships and Subchapter S corporations, as well as corporations that pay income taxes.

For the median personal income taxpayer, restoring the entire system while rolling back student fees to what they were a decade ago would cost about $50 next April 15. For the two-thirds of state taxpayers with taxable incomes below $70,000, it would cost $147 or less.

Income taxes are presented as one option, simply to illustrate the cost for typical taxpayers. Personal and corporate income taxes are only 65 percent [7] of all state revenues; part of the $6.9 billion could be allocated to other taxes, which would lower the effect on individual income tax payers. We also assume that the costs would be distributed as a uniform surcharge across all tax categories. If the cost were allocated more or less progressively, that would also affect impact on individual taxpayers.

 

table3
 

Limitations:

The calculations outlined in this working paper are all based on publicly available numbers and do not benefit from models of enrollment dynamics that may be maintained by state agencies or the three segments of the California public higher education system. The estimates do not account for price elasticity: as tuition and fees increase, some students decide not to attend public higher education in California, which will reduce student demand.

We assume, based on public statements and documents, that enrollment at California’s public higher education institutions has been constrained by their budgets.

Finally, the distribution of taxes is based on 2011, the most recent time for which data are available; this distribution will be slightly different in 2013.

These calculations will be updated and subsequent versions of this Working Paper will be released as better data become available.

 


[1] The full text of the Compact has been removed from the budget.ucop.edu site, but we have a copy of it at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2005-11compactagreement.pdf

[2] The full text of the Master Plan is at http://www.ucop.edu/acadinit/mastplan/MasterPlan1960.pdf. For a discussion of the history and current status of the Master Plan, see Legislative Analyst Office, “The Master Plan at 50: Assessing California’s Vision for Higher Education,” November, 2009, available at http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/PubDetails.aspx?id=2141

[3] The spreadsheet used to obtain all the results in this working paper is available at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/3553/restore-2013-14

[4] FTE data comes from the individual higher education systems, state expenditure data comes from the Legislative Analyst’s Office available at http://lao.ca.gov/sections/econ_fiscal/Historical_Expenditures_Pivot.xls

[5] See page 16 of http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/committee/c2/hearing/2005/april%2020%20%202005-uc%20csu-%20public-%20cm.doc

[6] State income tax revenue by adjusted gross income class and state income tax revenue from corporations: http://www.ftb.ca.gov/aboutFTB/Tax_Statistics/2011.shtml

[7] Governor’s Budget Revenue Estimates: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/pdf/BudgetSummary/RevenueEstimates.pdf

Faculty Association President Meister's Op-ed on SB 520

by Robert Meister

After a decade of skyrocketing tuition, Sacramento politicians have seized on a new gimmick to avoid paying for the kind of low-cost, high quality college education California used to guarantee all its students.

SB520, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Steinberg, proposes to “solve” the problem of over-enrolled gateway courses at California’s public universities and community colleges by requiring them to grant “full academic credit” for “comparable” courses completed on new for-profit online platforms (such as Coursera and Udacity) and existing for-profit schools (such as Kaplan and Straighterline).

This solution appears to be a zero-cost proposition for California’s taxpayers and students because many of the new online courses are presently free, except for the cost of providing certificates of completion.

The problem with this too-good-to-be true solution is that it is too good to be true.

As soon as SB520 becomes law, sellers of certificates of completion for online courses would find themselves in the new—legislatively-created—business of selling guaranteed transfer credits redeemable at any public university or college that admits the student to a degree program.

SB520 places no limits on what these for-profit providers could charge for these certificates despite the fact that the universities or colleges would have to honor them. At the same time, as budget cuts make access to gateway courses scarcer (particularly at the community colleges), SB520 would create windfall profits for the private sector that will not be burdened with the infrastructure or quality controls that have made public university and community college degrees valuable.

The long term result will be higher costs for students and a continuing decline in the quality of their publicly-funded education, all in the name of removing bottlenecks in lower division required courses that cuts in state funds have created.

SB520 would establish for the first time anywhere a system of legislatively-mandated transfer credits between a public higher education system and the for-profit sector of education providers. This hasty and ill-conceived bill is a legislative giveaway to a growing private industry with no commensurate public benefit or regulation.

Our public leaders should instead concentrate on restoring the promise of the low cost and high quality public higher education that built California.

How much will it cost us to restore public higher education in 2012-13 – updated with January 2013 state budget data

Read “Financial Options for Restoring Quality and Access to Public Higher Education in California” below or download a PDF of it (January 2013, 7 pp.) If you’re really a policy wonk, download the spreadsheets behind this report.


WORKING PAPER

FINANCIAL OPTIONS FOR RESTORING QUALITY AND ACCESS TO PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION IN CALIFORNIA: 2012-13

Stanton A. Glantz
Professor of Medicine
American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control
University of California San Francisco
Chair, University of California Systemwide Committee on Planning and Budget (2005-6)
Vice President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
glantz@medicine.ucsf.edu

Eric Hays
Executive Director of, Council of UC Faculty Associations
info@cucfa.org

(January 11, 2013)
Council of UC Faculty Associations
1270 Farragut Circle
Davis, CA 95618
Phone: (888) 826-3623

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

It is widely recognized that large reductions in state funding and sizeable increases in student fees have eroded quality and accessibility in California’s three-segment system of public higher education: the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. This report estimates what it would cost – through restored taxpayer funding or tuition increases — to restore the system’s historic quality while accommodating the thousands of qualified students excluded by recent budget cuts. This working paper considers state funding, student fees and accessibility to answer three basic questions about the public higher education system in California:

#1. How much would it cost taxpayers to push the “reset” button for public higher education, restoring access and quality (measured as per-student state support) while rolling back student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation?

Answer: It would cost taxpayers $6.405 billion.

#2. Absent restoration of taxpayer support for public higher education, how much more would student fees need to be increased to restore the level of per-student resources available in 2000-01?

Answer: University of California fees would have to increase over the current year’s fees by $10,491 (to a total of $23,721 per year), California State University fees would have to increase by $2,470 (to a total of $8,989 per year); California Community College fees would not have to increase.

#3. If the Governor and Legislature were to decide to push the “reset” button — reinstating the quality and accessibility standards of the Master Plan by returning state support and student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation — what would it cost the typical California taxpayer?

Answer: It would cost the median California taxpayer about $48.


Introduction:

It is widely recognized that beginning with Governor Gray Davis’ 2001-2 budget year, accelerating with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Compact for Higher Education, [1] and now continuing under Governor Jerry Brown, higher education in California has suffered large reductions in state funding. These reductions have effectively abandoned the California Master Plan for Higher Education [2] promise of high quality, low cost public higher education for all through an articulated system consisting of the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. California has consistently spent less than most states per higher education student (Figure 1).

Data: State Higher Education Executive Officers, http://www.sheeo.org/finance/shef-home.htm

At the same time, fees at UC and CSU have increased much faster than at colleges in the US as a whole (Figure 2). While these fee increases have generally been framed as responses to the State’s immediate budgetary problems, they are also congruent with the explicit public policy choice, based on free market principles and embodied in Governor Schwarzenegger’s Compact for Higher Education, to shift higher education from a public good provided by society as a whole through taxation to being a private good purchased through user fees.

Source: College Board, table 4a of http://trends.collegeboard.org/college_pricing/

This shift in public policy is stated in the 2004 Compact on Higher Education between Governor Schwarzenegger and the UC President and CSU Chancellor: “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. CSU will do the same in order to enhance the quality of its academic programs.” Until this point, the state was the primary source of support for “basic programs” with private sources being used for additional initiatives.

This working paper ties together the three elements of change: drops in state funding, fee increases, and declines in quality (measured as per student expenditures). It takes as its base year 2000-01, the last year that higher education was reasonably financially intact before the recent large fee increases. This paper addresses three questions:

  1. How much would it cost taxpayers to push the “reset” button for public higher education, restoring access and quality (measured as per-student state support) while rolling back student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation?
  2. Absent restoration of taxpayer support for public higher education, how much more would student fees need to be increased to restore the level of per-student resources available in 2000-01?
  3. If the Governor and Legislature were to decide to push the “reset” button — reinstating the quality and accessibility standards of the Master Plan by returning state support and student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation — what would it cost the typical California taxpayer?

 

Answer No. 1: Returning quality and fees to the level of 2000-01 would cost taxpayers $6.405 billion.

By restoring state funding to 2000-01 levels, it would be possible to return student fees to the levels of 2000-01 (adjusted for inflation) while maintaining quality (measured as total per student funding). Specifically, annual fees at UC would be rolled back to $5,278 (from $13,230), for CSU to $2,449 (from $6,519) and for CCC to $439 (from $1,080).

Table 1 shows the calculations that produced this number.[3] We begin with the number of full time equivalent (FTE) students in each of the three sectors of California higher education and total state general funds supplied to each sector,[4] then divide one by the other to obtain the state funding per student FTE. Next we adjust the 2000-01 dollar amounts for inflation to their equivalents for 2012-13 and subtract the actual levels of funding per student currently enrolled in each sector to determine the funding shortfall compared to 2000-01.

Restoring full state funding for existing enrollments would cost a total of $4.677 billion. These calculations do not tell the whole story, however, because all three sectors have responded to resource cuts by admitting fewer students than they would under the Master Plan. Providing funding to accommodate students who have been forced out of the higher education system would raise this number to $6.405 billion.

table1-jan2013
 

Answer No. 2: Restoring the public higher education system for all students only by increasing student fees would require raising UC fees an additional $10,491 (to a total of $23,721 per year), and CSU fees by $2,470 (to $8,989 per year). CCC fees would not have to increase.

Table 2 outlines the calculations that led to these numbers. The overall approach is the same as in Table 1, except that rather than restoring per student total expenditures by increasing state support, it is done by increasing student fees. Calculations for UC and CSU assume that it continues its “high fee high aid” policy of allocating 33 percent of fees to student aid.[5] The total funding per student used as a measure of quality is the sum of state funding and net tuition and fees after deleting the fee amounts returned to aid.

table2-jan2013
 

Answer No. 3: Restoring public higher education while returning student fees to 2000-01 levels would cost the median California taxpayer an additional $48.

Table 3 outlines these calculations. We obtained the distribution of taxes paid by adjusted gross income per tax return from the Franchise Tax Board 2009 (for tax year 2008),[6] the most recent year available, then allocated the $6.405 billion it would cost to restore public higher education to 2000-01 proportionately across all taxpayers. Note that the categories are for tax returns, not individuals, so the results are for joint returns (families), individual returns, partnerships and Subchapter S corporations, as well as corporations that pay income taxes. Thus, the numbers per taxpayer (as opposed to tax return) for joint returns would be half the numbers in Table 3.

For the median personal income tax return, restoring California’s entire higher education system while rolling back student fees to what they were a decade ago (adjusted for inflation) would cost $48 next April 15. For the two-thirds of state tax returns with taxable incomes below $60,000, it would cost $123 or less. Tax returns with the top 5% of adjusted gross income — $400,000 to $499,999 – would increase by $4,119.

It is also worth noting that our income tax distribution data lags our other data by several years and is just now falling into the deficit (2008 year data), which has an effect on the calculation of the median return. For comparison, using 2007 year data the median return would pay $41 to restore higher education in 2012-13. Certainly in 2012 the state’s economy looks a lot better than it did in 2008, so the actual cost to the median return is likely lower than $48.

Income taxes are presented as one option, simply to illustrate the cost for typical taxpayers. Personal and corporate income taxes are only 70 percent [7] of all state revenues; part of the $6.405 billion could be allocated to other taxes, which would lower the effect on individual income tax payers. We also assume that the costs would be distributed uniformly across all tax categories. If the cost were allocated more or less progressively, that would also affect impact on individual taxpayers.

table3-jan2013
 

Limitations:

The calculations outlined in this working paper are all based on publicly available numbers and do not benefit from models of enrollment dynamics that may be maintained by state agencies or the three segments of the California public higher education system. The estimates do not account for price elasticity: as tuition and fees increase, some students decide not to attend public higher education in California, which will reduce student demand. We assume, based on public statements and documents, that enrollment at California’s public higher education institutions has been constrained by their budgets. Finally, the distribution of taxes is based on a 2009 report of tax year 2008, the most recent time for which data are available; this distribution will be different in 2012.

These calculations will be updated and subsequent versions of this Working Paper will be released as better data become available.

 


[1] The full text of the Compact has now been removed from the budget.ucop.edu site, but we have a copy of it at http://clearsighted.com/keepcaliforniaspromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2005-11compactagreement1.pdf.

[2] The full text of the Master Plan is at http://www.ucop.edu/acadinit/mastplan/MasterPlan1960.pdf. For a discussion of the history and current status of the Master Plan, see Legislative Analyst Office, “The Master Plan at 50: Assessing California’s Vision for Higher Education,” November, 2009, available at http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/PubDetails.aspx?id=2141.

[3] The spreadsheet used to obtain all the results in this working paper is available at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/

[4] Student FTE data comes from the individual higher education systems, state expenditure data comes from the Legislative Analyst’s Office available at http://lao.ca.gov/laoapp/LAOMenus/lao_menu_economics.aspx and supplemented for recent years by the Governor’s 2012 budget: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/StateAgencyBudgets/6013/agency.html

[5] See page 16 of http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/committee/c2/hearing/2005/april%2020%20%202005-uc%20csu-%20public-%20cm.doc.

[6]State income tax revenue by adjusted gross income class and state income tax revenue from corporations: http://www.ftb.ca.gov/aboutFTB/Tax_Statistics/2009.shtml

[7] Governor’s Budget Revenue Estimates: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/pdf/BudgetSummary/RevenueEstimates.pdf

Where's UC Online Now and How Will We Get Our $7 Million Back?

by Wendy Brown, Outgoing Co-Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association

On July 16th and 17th, The New York Times featured stories on the launching of Coursera, a blockbuster online higher education project emerging from a spectacularly successful Stanford experiment two years ago.

Still in the early stages of development but already reaching hundreds of thousands of learners, Coursera promises to disseminate academic knowledge for free to anyone with access to a computer. The courses are not offered for credit although certification of completion is available. This “impediment” (which reminds us that online learning is not a direct substitute for classroom learning) does not seem to be one. Millions around the world are registering for fall 2012 Coursera courses.Many elite universities have signed on to Coursera, including Princeton, Stanford, Penn, Duke, Hopkins and a range of publics, among them Illinois, Michigan and Virginia. The University of California (with the exception of UCSF) is notably missing from the list of participating universities.

Where is UC? As you will recall, last year Berkeley Law School Dean Edley borrowed $7 million from UCOP to launch a UC for-profit online higher ed project, one that he promised would lead the way in the elite higher ed market, reap hundreds of millions of dollars for the university AND produce social justice as it extended a UC education to those who could not afford to leave home. Many of us were skeptical at the time, though our concerns were largely brushed aside. Edley also promised to raise private funds for the pilot exploration of this project. When this fundraising effort failed, he turned to the depleted coffers of UCOP to finance the pilot, claiming that it was a loan which would easily and quickly be repaid. (Why, one might ask, would UCOP fund something that major foundations, with their fingers on the pulse of online higher ed, would not?)

As Coursera and other elite online endeavors sailed the winds of open sourcing and brought ever more universities and constituencies on board, the UC online project kept shifting course. Would it provide a wholly online UC degree as Edley initially hoped? Or would it provide UC lower division courses to UC students so the University could enroll more students without expanding physical campuses or hiring more faculty? Or would it sell UC-branded courses to non-UC students (as the pilot project has done)? Would it be a substitute for, a supplement to, or a commercialized knock-off of a UC on-campus education? Would it sell the courses at the price of on-campus tuition or at a substantial discount? If the former, how would it compete with cheaper or free courses and if the latter, how would it make money? The question of when and how campus Senate committees would be involved in authorizing courses and credits was also constantly shifting and deferred.

Fast forward to the present. Dean Edley is not out front on this project any more. In fact, his leadership role appears nowhere on the UCOP website devoted to the project; he is listed only as a member of a faculty oversight committee. And UCOP Vice Provost Daniel Greenstein, Dean Edley’s partner in developing and promoting the project, has left UC for a position at the Gates Foundation.

Now in charge of UC Online is Keith Williams, a lecturer in Physical Education and Biology at UC Davis whose office is at the Hickey Gym.

So, who is responsible for repaying the $7 million loan that Edley and Greenstein got from UCOP to fund the pilot? When students renege on their loan payments, the Federal government garnishes their wages, should they be lucky enough to have any. When a department overspends its annual budget, available funds for the following year are reduced, and heads may also roll. But when an online pilot project doesn’t make its payments, what happens? Who is responsible? Who or what pays?

Shouldn’t we be able to see the loan repayment schedule for UC Online? And is it possible that we should stop throwing good money after bad, fold UC Online, sign on to Coursera, and get back to the important business of protecting what remains of UC on-campus instruction?

Brown and Yudof Bail on the Master Plan

By Bob Meister, President of CUCFA (Professor of Political and Social Thought, UCSC)

On June 27, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed language inserted by both houses of the legislature that would have tied UC funding to admitting a minimum number of students (the same enrollment target as in previous budgets). His veto message says as follows:

“Deletes provision 15 of item 6440-001-0001 from AB 1497, because the requirement contained in this provision that the University achieve an enrollment target of 209,977 resident full-time equivalent students creates unnecessary cost pressures on this item and is unnecessarily restrictive.”

Is such language no longer necessary? In the Schwarzenegger years the state budget set an enrollment target for UC and required that funds be “reverted” to the state if UC did not meet that target. Jerry Brown’s first budget maintained the goal of a minimum expected enrollment but explicitly rejected the reversion penalty. This year, the enrollment target itself was missing from the Governor’s January budget and from the May revise. After the LAO noticed its absence, the state legislature put it back.

Governor Brown’s veto means that, although Master Plan eligibility still exists on paper, the state will no longer monitor UC’s compliance with Master Plan expectations. The Governor’s veto should thus be read as a symbolic repudiation of the Master Plan’s link between UC’s state funding and its commitment to admit all eligible Californians. Maybe UC will keep its in-state enrollments constant for next year. But if you want a sense of where things are headed, just listen to President Yudof crow: “[The] bill included California resident enrollment target language that is not consistent with funding levels provided from the State… In accordance with my request the Governor vetoed the budget provisions on the enrollment target ….” (Yudof to Regents, June 29, 2012)

On Friday, June 30, Eric Hays (The Council of UC Faculty Association’s Executive Director) and Joe Kiskis (CUCFA’s VP for External Relations) attended a meeting at UCOP in which the likely outlines of the Governor’s compact with Yudof were revealed. Joe reports as follows:

In the event that Brown’s ballot initiative does pass, the governor has promised to dust off the multi-year (4-year? 5-year?) UC funding agreement that was apparently worked out between OP and the Governor during the spring and has since been on hold. The present version of this has a 6%/yr increase in state support for UC. That is the 4% previously rumored plus 2% for UCRP. In that eventuality, OP would likely ask the Regents for a 6%/yr tuition increase. (You read that right.) In the event that the ballot initiative does not pass, OP will probably ask the Regents for a tuition increase sufficient to make up for the $250M trigger, the lost $125M tuition buy out, and some other increasing fixed costs for a total increase of 20.3% to be effective Jan. 1, 2013. Yes, mid-year.

So here’s the deal. Jerry Brown will allow UC’s in-state tuition to compound, even in his best-case scenario, and has agreed with Yudof that UC will no longer be accountable for replacing California students with non-residents, each of whom yields a surplus revenue of c.$22,000. The UC campuses that displace California students, moreover, will be allowed to keep all the extra money this brings in, thereby increasing their budgetary advantage over campuses that meet what were once regarded as Master Plan expectations. (See http://cucfa.org/news/2012_jun24.php) But from now on there will be no Master Plan targets stated in the budget, and thus no official reason for the Governor or his Department of Finance to keep track of whether the UC system and its individual campuses are complying with the Master Plan’s commitment to find a place for all eligible Californians. If they don’t, who will? The California Post-Secondary Education Commission, which was created for this purpose, was abolished in last year’s budget. When the Legislature tried to fulfill this Master Plan role, the Governor used his line-item to block this at Yudof’s request.

Eric Hays has kept track of how far the Governor Brown has moved away from Master Plan language in the Schwarzenegger budgets:

  • 2010-11 (Schwarzenegger’s last year): “The Legislature expects the University of California to enroll a total of 209,977 state-supported FTES during the 2010–11 academic year. This enrollment target does not include nonresident students and students enrolled in non-state-supported summer programs. The University of California shall report to the Legislature by March 15, 2011, on whether it has met the 2010–11 academic year enrollment goal. For purposes of this provision, enrollment totals shall only include state-supported students. If the University of California does not meet its total state supported enrollment goal by at least 512 FTES, the Director of Finance shall revert to the General Fund by April 1, 2011, the total amount of enrollment funding associated with the total share of the enrollment goal that was not met.” (page 604-605 of http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/osp/GovernorsBudget/pdf/fbudsum_1011.pdf)
  • 2012-13 (language inserted by the Legislature and vetoed by Governor Brown): “The Legislature [emphasis added] expects the University of California to enroll a total of 209,977 state-support-ed full time equivalent students during the 2012–13 academic year. This enrollment target does not include nonresident students and students enrolled in nonstate supported summer programs. The University of California shall report to the Legislature [emphasis added] by May 1, 2013, on whether it has met the 2012–13 academic year enrollment goal.”

An Open Letter From a UCSD Faculty Member to UCSD's New Chancellor

by Luis Martín-Cabrera

Dear Chancellor Khosla:

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Literature as well as an affiliated faculty of Ethnic Studies and the Critical Gender Studies Program. I am also the Vice President of the San Diego Faculty Association, a local chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). As you may know, this organization has fought hard for academic freedom and faculty rights across the nation. I am one of the faculty members who joined the Black Student Union, Mecha and other student organizations to protest the racist, homophobic, sexist, and classist incidents that occurred on our campus in 2010. Finally, I am a supporter of labor groups on campus, especially AFSCME. While you look forward to a six digit salary and many other perks, our brothers and sisters from AFSCME are being asked to work more hours for the same or less money while putting their health at severe risk.

I’m not telling you all of this to legitimize myself or to speak for any of these groups. I am letting you know who I am and who I have been in contact with for the past seven years – years in which I have listened and heard many concerns. I am writing this letter to express one concern that is shared by many. Like many students, faculty, and workers, I never had the opportunity to ask you questions in an open, unscripted forum when you were a candidate (hint: organize such a forum. It is never too late). I read with curiosity and attention your interview in The Guardian, (http://www.ucsdguardian.org/component/k2/item/25732-interview-with-chancellor-designate-khosla) and I have some doubts, questions and comments about your responses.

In response to a question about the future direction of the university, you said that UCSD “has achieved a lot in the last 50 years. And it has achieved that partly because of the entrepreneurial nature of the faculty, partly because of strong leadership and partly because of both.” My Translation: you are mostly concerned about the profit making centers of the University, mainly the hospitals and research centers that are connected to federal grants and corporate interests. Many of us are not surprised that you see the university as a corporation and yourself as a CEO. We know that you managed a $50 million portfolio for DARPA (a military agency) and that you served as a consultant for several companies and venture capitalists. However, we are also part of this public university, and we ask you: Do those of us who are not entrepreneurs or revenue generators have a place at UCSD? Do those who work in academic fields that promote the public good over profit-motives have a future at UCSD?

The typical response to this concern is that UCSD development teams are working on raising funds for the Humanities and those fields that cannot support themselves. It is always so interesting how administrators label the things they like to expend money on (i.e. buildings, chancellor’s salaries) as “investments,” while the things they don’t like to expend money on (i.e. student services, humanities departments) are labeled as “costs.” The problem, however, is that even accepting your philanthropic logic, there are entire fields of knowledge and disciplines that “do not get donors excited.” Are we condemned, then, to sacrifice entire fields of knowledge on the altar of corporate interests? Is that going to promote the public interest and world quality education in the state of California?

When you were asked about the possibility of increasing students fees 6% in the fall, you said you wished there was a magic bullet to avoid tuition increases. You added that without this magic bullet the way to fix the lack of funds “is over time, to raise more money for student scholarships, for undergraduate scholarships. But that is a process that can take one, two, three decades, to get to a point where everybody can go to school for free, it’s nearly impossible.” My Translation: You will support any tuition increases in the near future regardless of the effect that it may have on the students and their families. You appear to be a supporter of the so-called “Michigan Model” of high tuition with high aid – that is to say, passing the “cost” of education to the “student/consumer.” Your words appear to be a euphemistic way around the indenture of our students.

Do you know that this model generates astronomical student debt and that it disproportionally affects working class students and students of color? In this regard, Bob Meister, a Professor of UC Santa Cruz, writes that, “the price of public higher education has been growing at twice the rate of the economy, twice as fast as health insurance, and three to four times more quickly than consumer prices in general. University leaders were, of course, both observers of this bubble and participants in it” (Debt and Taxes: Can the Financial Industry Save Public Universities? Privatization Is Now the Problem—Not the Solution). Are you going to participate in the expansion and consolidation of the student debt bubble or will you make a firm commitment to consider other options? It is simply not true that you have no option but to raise tuition. There are many proposals like UCSF Professor Stan Glantz’s. According to Glantz it would cost the median California tax payer between $45 and $51 to roll back UC tuition to the levels of the year 2000 (see the complete proposal at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/2066/restore2011-12).

Finally, you were asked about the future of diversity initiatives on campus and you responded: “clearly I have a goal of increasing enrollment, but I have to work with my senior staff, the faculty and students, because I’m sure there are many good ideas floating around that I am unaware of.” My Translation: Like Chancellor Fox and the UCSD administration, you think that racism and lack of diversity at UCSD have been resolved, so you plan on taking a dangerously passive approach that has been the modus operandi of administrators. The problem is that there are signs of continued deterioration, because the problem is structural. The so-called “Compton Cookout” emerged from a long history of structural inequality at UCSD. Because of the brave actions of students, especially the groups previously mentioned, the administration had to face some of these problems. Yet, they addressed the issue only superficially, never getting at the roots or systemic problems. They put a band-aid on things, and then used the students’ struggles in their slick marketing campaigns to promote “campus diversity.” Contrary to that fantasy campus, UCSD continues to be a toxic space for historically underrepresented minorities on campus, especially Muslim and Arab American students. I don’t have a quantitative study to substantiate this claim, but I have eyes, ears, and a heart. At the very least, Chancellor Kohsla, you should commit the funding for the BSU resource center out of UCSD money. Do not wait for private donations. Your support for this effort would be a step in the right direction and a sign of good faith.

I realize that many members of the community may think it is too soon to raise these criticisms. Unfortunately, after seven years at this institution I have learned to expect nothing but empty words from the administration. Perhaps you can prove me wrong. Perhaps you can show me and the UCSD community that there was a deeper substance behind your words in the recent interview. Then, I would be the first to admit that I was “lost in translation.” Prove me wrong, and I’d be happy to sit down there with you and the people. We could talk, listen, and imagine new ways of opening the doors of the university to everybody in the state of California, regardless of class, race, gender, or ethnicity and honor the heritage of the California Master Plan. If this sounds too much like fiction to you, then I guess I will see you at the next protest in the Chancellor Office Complex, or at the next building reclamation, or wherever there are good people opposing the full privatization of the UC system.

(Updated to correct spelling errors noted by Mike Easter.)

What Governor Brown's May Budget Proposal Means for UC

UC President Mark Yudof and Governor Jerry Brown are working out a deal behind closed doors that will loosen the most important ties between the university and the state.

Although they will both praise the deal by saying that it “stabilizes” funding while granting greater “flexibility,” its essence is that each will let the other off the hook: UC will mute complaints that it does not get enough money from the state and the state will stop holding UC accountable for the money it still gets.

The likely result is that UC will dump a larger number of eligible Californians onto the CSU and Community Colleges, which will in turn pass on their overflow to for-profit schools, where students take on inordinate amounts of debt with a very high likelihood of default.

Here are some key elements of the deal:

* UC will continue to raise tuition-at least 6% based on the Governor’s January budget proposal, likely more now that the Governor’s May revise reduces UC funding by $38 million, and much more if the Governor’s fall tax initiative fails to pass. (http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/may12/f8.pdf, pg. 2)

* UC will no longer promise the state that it will admit a fixed number of California students in return for the enrollment funding that the state provides. For next year, and presumably from now on, UC will be allowed to use taxpayer funding as it pleases, without being accountable for the number of in-state students it educates (http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis/2012/highered/higher-ed-020812.pdf, pg. 19). This means that UC is likely to enroll fewer California students, and to replace them with out-of-state and international students who pay more. The likely result is that UC will be able make more on average from its enrollments, that the state is likely to pay less, and that middle-income Californians will get less access to UC.

* UC will henceforward be allowed to commingle the state funds it uses for operations, such as teaching, with the funds it uses to pay debt service on new construction (http://www.dof.ca.gov/documents/2012-13_May_Revision.pdf, pg 43). UC has said that this added “flexibility” in its use of both state and non-state funds will allow it to squeeze out more for operations by delaying or stopping unnecessary construction projects. But since 2004 it has been doing the opposite, squeezing operational budgets that could be funded by higher tuition to leverage more construction. The state should have held UC accountable for its use of higher tuition on California students to gain greater access to the construction bond markets, which were impressed by its ability to increase enrollments while raising prices. Instead, the state will give UC carte blanche in its use of both state and non-state funds. It might use this greater flexibility to spend more on construction. But from now on no one will ask, and no one will know.

Finally, UC will be able to say that how much it spends to educate Californians and how many of them it enrolls is its own business, and not the state’s. If UC thinks its traditional mission is a money-loser, it can now use its continuing, but declining, revenues from the state to diversify into fields where it sees a brighter future. It will not be expected to draw on its other, more entrepreneurial, activities to subsidize public higher education, but instead will be allowed to use state educational funds to subsidize these other activities — and especially the capital projects necessary to get them off the ground.

The core of the agreement between the Governor and UC is that UC will no longer be held accountable for its priorities in the use of any of its resources (public or private) — and especially for making it a priority to educate Californians.

Under Governor Schwarzenegger, UC got the state to agree that it should provide only as much public higher education for Californians as the state is willing to pay for. Under Governor Brown it will be free to provide even less than the state is willing to pay for. Unless this agreement is reversed, state funding for UC will continue to fall as UC separates itself from the rest of California’s Master Plan. We are reaching the point of no return.

For an alternative to the above scenario, read Keep California’s Promise’s “How much will it cost us to restore public higher education in 2011-12?

Five Theses on Privatization and the UC Struggle

The following speech by Nathan Brown, Davis Faculty Association Board Member, and Assistant Professor of English at UC Davis, was delivered at the UC system-wide strike rally held at UC Davis on November 15:

Hello Everyone!

It’s beautiful to see so many of you here today. On four day’s notice, this is an incredible turnout. Let’s remember how much we can do in so little time.

I’m an English professor, and as some of you know, English professors spend a lot of our time talking about how to construct a “thesis” and how to defend it through argument. So today I’m going to model this way of thinking and writing by using it to discuss the university struggle. My remarks will consist of five theses, and I will defend these by presenting arguments to support them.

THESES

1. Tuition increases are the problem, not the solution.

2. Police brutality is an administrative tool to enforce tuition increases.

3. What we are struggling against is not the California legislature, but the upper administration of the UC system.

4. The university is the real world.

5. We are winning.

THESIS ONE: Tuition increases are the problem, not the solution.

In 2005 tuition was $6,312. Tuition is currently $13,218. What the Regents were supposed to be considering this week — before their meeting was cancelled due to student protest — was UC President Yudof’s plan to increase tuition by a further 81% over the next four years. On that plan, tuition would be over $23,000 by 2015-2016. If that plan goes forward, in ten years tuition would have risen from around $6,000 to around $23,000.

What happened?

The administration tells us that tuition increases are necessary because of cuts to state funding. According to this argument, cuts to state funding are the problem, and tuition increases are the solution. We have heard this argument from the administration and from others many times.

To argue against this administrative logic, I’m going to rely on the work of my colleague Bob Meister, a professor at UC Santa Cruz and the President of the UC Council of Faculty Associations. Professor Meister has written a series of important open letters to UC students, explaining why tuition increases are in fact the problem, not the solution to the budget crisis. What Meister explains is that the privatization of the university—the increasing reliance on tuition payments (your money) rather than state funding—is not a defensive measure on the part of the UC administration to make up for state cuts. Rather, it is an aggressive strategy of revenue growth: a way for the university to increase its revenue more than it would be able to through state funding.

This is the basic argument: privatization, through increased enrollments and constantly increasing tuition, is first and foremost an administrative strategy to bring in more revenue. It is not just a way to keep the university going during a time of state defunding. What is crucial to this argument is the way that different sources of funding can be used.

State funds are restricted funds. This means that a certain portion of those funds has to be used to fund the instructional budget of the university. The more money there is in the instructional budget, the more money is invested in student instruction, in the quality of your education. But private funds, tuition payments, are unrestricted funds. This means there are no restrictions on whether those funds are spent on student instruction, on administrative pay, or anything else.

What Professor Meister uncovered through his research into the restructuring of UC funding is that student tuition (your money) is being pledged as collateral to guarantee the university’s credit rating. What this allows the university to do is borrow money for lucrative investments, like building contracts or “capital projects” as they are called. These have no relation to the instructional quality of the institution. And the strong credit rating of the university is based on its pledge to continue raising tuition indefinitely.

Restricted state funds cannot be used for such purposes. Their use is restricted in such a way as to guarantee funding for the instructional budget. This restriction is a problem for any university administration whose main priority is not to sustain its instructional budget, but rather to increase its revenues and secure its credit rating for investment projects with private contractors.

So for an administration that wants to increase UC revenues and to invest in capital projects (rather than maintaining the quality of instruction) it is not cuts to public funding that are the problem; it is public funding itself that is the problem, because public funding is restricted.

What is happening as tuition increases is that money is being shifted out of instructional budgets and into private credit markets, as collateral for loans used for capital projects. Because of this, and because of increased enrollment, as university revenue increases the amount of money spent on instruction, per student, decreases. Meanwhile, students go deeper and deeper into debt to pay for their education. Using tuition payments as collateral, the university secures loans for capital projects. In order to pay their tuition, students borrow money in the form of student loans. The UC system thus makes a crucial wager: that students will be willing to borrow more and more money to pay higher and higher tuition.

Why would students do so? Because, the argument goes, a university education is an investment in your future—because it will “pay off” down the line. This logic entails an implicit social threat: if you do not take on massive debt to pay for a university degree, you will “fall behind”—you will be at a disadvantage on the job market, and you will ultimately make less money. The fear of “falling behind,” in the future, results in a willingness to pay more in the present, which is essentially a willingness to borrow more, to go further into debt in order to make more money later.

But is it actually true that a university degree continues to give students a substantial advantage on the job market? It is now the case that 50% of university students, after graduating, take jobs that do not require a university degree. It used to be the case that there was a substantial income gap between the top 20% of earners, who had university degrees, and the bottom 80% of earners, who did not. But since 1998, nearly all income growth has occurred in the top 1% of the population, while income has been stagnant for the bottom 99%. This is what it means to be “part of the 99%”: the wealth of a very small segment of the population increases, and you’re not in it.

What this means is that the advantage of a university degree is far less substantial than it used to be, though you pay far more for that degree. The harsh reality is that whether or not you have a university degree, you will probably still “fall behind.” We all fall behind together. The consequence is that students have recently become less willing to take out more and more debt to pay tuition. It is no longer at all clear that the logic of privatization will work, that it is sustainable. And what this means is that the very logic upon which the growth of the university is now based, the logic of privatization, is in crisis, or it will be. Student loan debt is a financial “bubble,” like the housing bubble, and it cannot continue to grow indefinitely.

To return to my thesis: what this means for our university—not just for students, but especially for students—is that increasing tuition is the problem, not the solution.

What we have to fight, then, is the logic of privatization. And that means fighting the upper administration of the UC system, which has enthusiastically taken up this logic, not as a defensive measure, but as an aggressive program to increase revenue while decreasing spending on instruction.

THESIS TWO: Police brutality is an administrative tool to enforce tuition increases.

What happened at UC Berkeley on November 9? Students, workers, and faculty showed up en masse to protest tuition increases. In solidarity with the national occupation movement, they set up tents on the grass beside Sproul Hall, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. The administration would not tolerate the establishment of an encampment on the Berkeley campus. So the Berkeley administration, as it has done so many times over the past two years, sent in UC police, in this case to clear these tents. Faculty, workers, and students linked arms between the police and the tents, and they held their ground. They did so in the tradition of the most disciplined civil disobedience.

What happened?

Without provocation, UC police bludgeoned faculty, workers, and students. They drove their batons into stomachs and ribcages, they beat people with overhand blows, they grabbed students and faculty by their hair, threw them on the ground, and arrested them. Numerous people were injured. A graduate student was rushed to the hospital and put into urgent care.

Why did this happen? Because tuition increases have to be enforced. It is now registered in the internal papers of the Regents that student protests are an obstacle to further tuition increases, to the program of privatization. This obstacle has to be removed by force. Students are starting to realize that they can no longer afford to pay for an “educational premium” by taking on more and more debt to pay higher tuition. So when they say: we refuse to pay more, we refuse to fall further into debt, they have to be disciplined. The form this discipline takes is police brutality, continually invited and sanctioned by UC Chancellors and senior administrators over the past two years.

Police brutality against students, workers, and faculty is not an accident—just like it has not been an accident for decades in black and brown communities. Like privatization, and as an essential part of privatization, police brutality is a program, an implicit policy. It is a method used by UC administrators to discipline students into paying more, to beat them into taking on more debt, to crush dissent and to suppress free speech. Police brutality is the essence of the administrative logic of privatization.

THESIS THREE: What we are struggling against is not the California legislature, but the upper administration of the UC system.

It is not the legislature, but the UC Office of the President, which increases tuition in excess of what would be necessary to offset state cuts. Again, tuition increases are an aggressive strategy of privatization, not a defensive compensation for state cuts. When we protest those tuition increases, it is the Chancellors of our campuses, not the state legislature, who authorize police to crush our dissent through physical force. This is why our struggle, immediately, is against the upper administration of the UC system, not against “Sacramento.”

This struggle against the administration is not about attacking individuals—or not primarily. It is about the administrative logic of privatization, and the manner in which that logic is enforced. We need to hold administrators accountable for this logic—and especially for sending police to brutalize students, workers, and faculty. But more importantly we need to understand and intervene against the logic of privatization itself: a logic which requires tuition increases, which requires police brutality, in order to function.

This is why the point is not to talk to administrators. When we occupy university buildings, when we disrupt university business as usual, the administration attempts to defer and displace our direct action by inviting us into “dialogue”—usually the next day, or just…some other time. What these invitations mean, and all they mean, is that the administration wants to get us out of the place where we are now and put us in a situation where we have to speak on their terms, rather than ours. It is the job of the upper administration to push through tuition increases by deferring, displacing, and, if necessary, brutally repressing dissent. The program of privatization depends upon this.

The capacity of administrators to privatize the university depends on their capacity to keep the university running smoothly while doing so: their capacity to suppress any dissent that disrupts university operations. The task, then, of students, faculty, and workers, is to challenge this logic directly. The task is to make it clear that the university will not be able to run smoothly if privatization does not stop. In many different ways, since the fall of 2009, we have been making this clear.

THESIS FOUR: The university is the real world.

The university is not a place “cut off” from the rest of the world or from other political situations. The university is one situation among many in which we struggle against debt, exploitation, and austerity. The university struggle is part of this larger struggle. And as part of this larger struggle, the university struggle is also an anti-capitalist struggle.

Within the university struggle, this has been a controversial position. Rather than linking the university struggle to other, larger struggles, many have argued that we need to focus only on university reform without addressing the larger economic and social structures in which the university is included—in which the logic of privatization and austerity is included, and in which the student struggle is included. But to say that the university struggle is an anti-capitalist struggle should now be much less controversial, and it should now be much easier to insist on linking the struggle against the privatization of the university to other anti-capitalist struggles.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which has become a national occupation movement, makes this clear. All across the country, from New York to Oakland to Davis, in hundreds of cities and towns, people who have been crushed by debt are rising up against austerity measures that impoverish them further. The national occupation movement and the UC student struggle are parts of the same struggle, which is global. It is articulated across political movements in Greece, in Spain, in Chilé, in the UK, in Tunisia, in Egypt, etc. This is a struggle against the destruction of our future, in the present, by an economic system that can now only survive by creating financial bubbles (the housing bubble, the student loan bubble) which eventually have to pop.

Two years ago, positioning the UC struggle as an anti-capitalist struggle was seen as divisive. The argument was that such a position was alienating and that it would inhibit mass participation. But now we see that there is a mass, national movement which is explicitly anti-capitalist, which positions itself explicitly as a class struggle, and, in doing so, struggles against debt and austerity as the interlinking financial logics of a collapsing American economy. Given this context, the only way the university struggle can isolate itself is by failing or refusing to acknowledge that it is also an anti-capitalist struggle, that it is also a class struggle.

This struggle concerns all of us, faculty as well as students and workers, because the economic logic of privatization, the logic of capitalism, destroys the very texture of social life in our country and around the world, just as it destroys our public universities.

“We are all debtors,” said a student at Berkeley as she called for this strike. That is a powerful basis of solidarity.

THESIS FIVE: We are winning.

Yes, it is true that tuition continues to rise. I am not saying that we have won. But it is also the case that last year state funding was partially restored. This was due to student resistance on our campuses, not in Sacramento. It was due to our struggle against the administrative logic of privatization. Meanwhile, privatization is becoming more and more unsustainable, less and less viable. In the fall of 2009, student resistance became a powerful obstacle to perpetually increasing tuition. It is because of that obstacle that the Regents meeting was cancelled this week.

But even more important than these immediate gains is the fact that we have built the largest and most significant student movement in this country since the 1960s. UC Davis has played an important role in building that movement. The 2009 student/faculty walkout was initiated by people on this campus. The occupations of Mrak Hall in November 2009 and the courageous march on the freeway on March 4 2010 have been tremendously inspirational to students struggling on other campuses. Actions like these are the very material of which the student movement consists. Without them it would not exist.

So we have built a historically important student movement, and now that movement is linked to largest anti-capitalist movement in the United States since 1930s. Students now have the support of a struggle that can be waged on two fronts, on and off campus.
To put it mildly, we have many more allies than we did two years ago.

At the same time, the UC student movement has had a global impact. The tactic of occupation that was crucial to the movement in the fall of 2009, which spread from campus to campus that November, has now also spread across the country. The occupation of university buildings is a time-honored tactic in student struggles. But by many it was also viewed as a “divisive” or “vanguardist” tactic two years ago. Now, thanks largely to the example of the Egyptian revolution, the occupation of public space has become the primary tactic in a national protest movement supported by some 60% of the American people. The mass adoption of this tactic, the manner in which it has grown beyond the university struggle, is a huge victory for our movement.

Here is a passage from an influential student pamphlet written in 2009, Communiqué from an Absent Future: On the Terminus of Student Life, which was read by people across the US and translated into six different languages:

Occupation will be a critical tactic in our struggle…and we intend to use this tactic until it becomes generalized. In 2001 the Argentine piqueteros suggested the form the people’s struggle there should take: road blockades which brought to a halt the circulation of goods from place to place. Within months this tactic spread across the country without any formal coordination between groups. In the same way repetition can establish occupation as an instinctive and immediate method of revolt taken up both inside and outside the university.

People at Adbusters, the Canadian magazine which initially organized the Occupy Wall Street protests, read that student pamphlet and wrote about it in 2009. The tactic that pamphlet called for was put into practice across the UC system, under the slogan “Occupy Everything,” and the goal of spreading that tactic has been unequivocally achieved. Its achievement has had huge political implications for the whole country. So this is also a way in which we are winning.

Occupation has been and continues to be such an important tactic because it is not limited to the university, but linked to occupations of squares and plazas in cities, and linked to struggles to begin occupying foreclosed properties on a mass scale. The resonance of university occupations with the national occupation movement means that our struggle is growing and expanding. That means we are winning. And the fact that the university struggle can no longer plausibly be considered in isolation from anti-capitalist struggle broadly conceived is itself a huge victory.

We cannot simply change “the university” while leaving “the world” as it is, because the university is the real world. By changing the university, we change the world. And we have to change the world in order to change the university.

How much will it cost us to restore public higher education in 2011-12?

This post has been superseded by updated versions:

How much will it cost us to restore public higher education in 2012-13?

How much will it cost us to restore public higher education in 2013-14?


Raising revenue has become such a taboo subject in California politics, but restoring quality public higher education in California can be done. For the median California tax return (individual or joint), restoring the entire system while rolling back student fees to what they were a decade ago would cost $49 next April 15.

Read “Financial Options for Restoring Quality and Access to Public Higher Education in California” below or download a PDF of it (October 2011, 8 pp.) If you’re really a policy wonk, download the spreadsheets behind this report.

540 Calculator: What restoring the system will cost you.


WORKING PAPER

FINANCIAL OPTIONS FOR RESTORING QUALITY AND ACCESS TO PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION IN CALIFORNIA: 2011-12

Stanton A. Glantz
Professor of Medicine
American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control
University of California San Francisco
Chair, University of California Systemwide Committee on Planning and Budget (2005-6)
Vice President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
glantz@medicine.ucsf.edu

Eric Hays
Director of Research, Council of UC Faculty Associations
info@cucfa.org

(October 3, 2011)
Council of UC Faculty Associations
15 Shattuck Square, #200
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: (800) 431-3348

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

It is widely recognized that large reductions in state funding and sizeable increases in student fees have eroded quality and accessibility in California’s three-segment system of public higher education: the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. This report estimates what it would cost – through restored taxpayer funding or tuition increases — to restore the system’s historic quality while accommodating the thousands of qualified students excluded by recent budget cuts. This working paper considers state funding, student fees and accessibility to answer three basic questions about the public higher education system in California:

#1.  How much would it cost taxpayers to push the “reset” button for public higher education, restoring access and quality (measured as per-student state support) while rolling back student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation?

Answer: It would cost taxpayers $6.671 billion. If the budget trigger is pulled in December 2011, taxpayer support for public higher education would drop by another $302 million, so the cost of the reset would rise to $6.973 billion.

#2. Absent restoration of taxpayer support for public higher education, how much more would student fees need to be increased to restore the level of per-student resources available in 2000-01?

Answer: University of California fees would have to increase over the current year’s fees by $9,230 (to a total of $22,448 per year), California State University fees would have to increase by $3,018 (to a total of $9,490 per year);  California Community College fees would not have to increase. If the budget trigger is pulled, UC fees would have to increase over the current year’s fees by $9,904 (to a total of $23,122 per year), CSU fees would have to increase by $3,457 (to a total of $9,929 per year), and CCC fees would have to increase $52 (to a total of $1,132 per year).

#3.   If the Governor and Legislature were to decide to push the “reset” button, — reinstating the quality and accessibility standards of the Master Plan by returning state support and student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation — what would it cost the typical California taxpayer?

Answer: It would cost the median California taxpayer about $49, about $51 if the budget trigger has been pulled.

 
Introduction

It is widely recognized that beginning with Governor Gray Davis’ 2001-2 budget year, accelerating with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Compact for Higher Education,[1] and now accelerating even further under Governor Jerry Brown’s budget, higher education in California has suffered large reductions in state funding.  These reductions have effectively abandoned the California Master Plan for Higher Education[2] promise of high quality, low cost public higher education for all through an articulated system consisting of the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. California has consistently spent less than most states per higher education student, and public higher education funding has fallen as quickly in California in recent years as in the United States as a whole (Figure 1).

figure 1
Data: State Higher Education Executive Officers, http://www.sheeo.org/finance/shef-home.htm

 

At the same time, fees at UC and CSU have increased much faster than at colleges in the US as a whole (Figure 2). While these fee increases have generally been framed as responses to the State’s immediate budgetary problems, they are also congruent with the explicit public policy choice, based on free market principles and embodied in Governor Schwarzenegger’s Compact for Higher Education, to shift higher education from a public good provided by society as a whole through taxation to being a private good purchased through user fees.

figure 2
Source: College Board, table 4a of http://trends.collegeboard.org/college_pricing/

 

This shift in public policy is stated in the 2004 Compact on Higher Education between Governor Schwarzenegger and the UC President and CSU Chancellor: “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. CSU will do the same in order to enhance the quality of its academic programs.” Until this point, the state was the primary source of support for “basic programs” with private sources being used for additional initiatives.

This working paper ties together the three elements of change: drops in state funding, fee increases, and declines in quality (measured as per student expenditures). It takes as its base year 2000-01, the last year that higher education was reasonably financially intact before the recent large fee increases. This paper addresses three questions:

  1. How much would it cost taxpayers to push the “reset” button for public higher education, restoring access and quality (measured as per-student state support) while rolling back student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation?
  2. Absent restoration of taxpayer support for public higher education, how much more would student fees need to be increased to restore the level of per-student resources available in 2000-01?
  3. If the Governor and Legislature were to decide to push the “reset” button, — reinstating the quality and accessibility standards of the Master Plan by returning state support and student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation — what would it cost the typical California taxpayer?

Answer No. 1: Returning quality and fees to the level of 2000-01 would cost taxpayers $6.671 billion.

By restoring state funding to 2000-01 levels, it would be possible to return student fees to the levels of 2000-01 (adjusted for inflation) while maintaining quality (measured as total per student funding). Specifically, annual fees at UC would be rolled back to $5,095 (from $13,218), for CSU to $2,364 (from $6,472) and CCC to $424 (from $1,080).

Table 1 shows the calculations that produced this number.[3] We begin with the numbers of full time equivalent (FTE) students in each of the three sectors of California higher education and total state general funds supplied to each sector,[4] then divide one by the other to obtain the state funding per student FTE. Next we adjust the 2000-01 dollar amounts for inflation to their equivalents for 2011-12 and subtract the actual levels of funding per student currently enrolled in each sector to determine the funding shortfall compared to 2000-01.

Restoring full state funding for existing enrollments would cost a total of $4.903 billion. These calculations do not tell the whole story, however, because all three sectors have responded to resource cuts by admitting fewer students than they would under the Master Plan.  Providing funding to accommodate students who have been forced out of the higher education system would raise this number to $6.671 billion.

Part of the 2011 budget deal between Governor Jerry Brown and the legislature was a promise to the state’s creditors that if, as of December 15, state tax revenue is significantly below those assumed in the budget specific cuts would be triggered. These cuts include $100 million to UC and CSU and $102 million to the CCCs.[5] Thus, if the trigger gets pulled, the cost to restore higher education funding to 2000-01 levels would be $6.973 billion.

table 1

 

Answer No. 2: Restoring the public higher education system for all students only by increasing student fees would require raising UC fees an additional $9,230 (to a total of $22,448 per year), and CSU fees by $3,018 (to $9,490 per year). CCC fees would not have to increase. If the budget trigger described above gets pulled, UC fees would have to increase over the current year’s fees by $9,904 (to a total of $23,122 per year), CSU fees would have to increase by $3,457 (to a total of $9,929 per year), and CCC fees would need to increase $52 (to a total of $1,132 per year).

Table 2 outlines the calculations that led to these numbers. The overall approach is the same as in Table 1, except that rather than restoring per student total expenditures by increasing state support, it is done by increasing student fees.  Calculations for UC and CSU assume that it continues its “high fee high aid” policy of allocating 33 percent of fees to student aid.[6]  The total funding per student used as a measure of quality is the sum of state funding and net tuition and fees after deleting the fee amounts returned to aid.

table 2

 

Answer No. 3: Restoring public higher education while returning student fees to 2000-01 levels would cost the median California taxpayer an additional $49.

Table 3 outlines these calculations. We obtained the distribution of taxes paid by adjusted gross income per tax return from the Franchise Tax Board for 2009,[7] the most recent year available, then allocated the $6.671 billion it would cost to restore public higher education to 2000-01 proportionately across all taxpayers.  Note that the categories are for tax returns, not individuals, so the results are for joint returns (families), individual returns, partnerships and Subchapter S corporations, as well as corporations that pay income taxes.  Thus, the numbers per taxpayer (as opposed to tax return) for joint returns would be half the numbers in Table 3.

For the median personal income tax return, restoring California’s entire higher education system while rolling back student fees to what they were a decade ago (adjusted for inflation) would cost $49 next April 15.  For the two-thirds of state tax returns with taxable incomes below $60,000, it would cost $125 or less.  Tax returns with the top 5% of adjusted gross income — $400,000 to $499,999 – would increase by $4,184.

Income taxes are presented as one option, simply to illustrate the cost for typical taxpayers.  Personal and corporate income taxes are only 65 percent[8] of all state revenues; part of the $6.671 billion could be allocated to other taxes, which would lower the effect on individual income tax payers. We also assume that the costs would be distributed uniformly across all tax categories. If the cost were allocated more or less progressively, that would also affect impact on individual taxpayers.

table 3

 

Limitations

The calculations outlined in this working paper are all based on publicly available numbers and do not benefit from models of enrollment dynamics that may be maintained by state agencies or the three segments of the California public higher education system. The estimates do not account for price elasticity: as tuition and fees increase, some students decide not to attend public higher education in California, which will reduce student demand. We assume, based on public statements and documents, that enrollment at California’s public higher education institutions has been constrained by their budgets. Finally, the distribution of taxes is based on 2009, the most recent time for which data are available; this distribution will be slightly different in 2011.

These calculations will be updated and subsequent versions of this Working Paper will be released as better data become available. This paper is an update of the paper we published in 2010.

 


[1] The full text of the Compact is at http://budget.ucop.edu/2005-11compactagreement.pdf.

[2] The full text of the Master Plan is at http://www.ucop.edu/acadinit/mastplan/MasterPlan1960.pdf. For a discussion of the history and current status of the Master Plan, see Legislative Analyst Office, “The Master Plan at 50: Assessing California’s Vision for Higher Education,” November, 2009, available at http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/PubDetails.aspx?id=2141.

[3] The spreadsheet used to obtain all the results in this working paper is available at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/2066/restore2011-12

[4] Student FTE data comes from the individual higher education systems, state expenditure data comes from the Legislative Analyst’s Office available at http://lao.ca.gov/sections/econ_fiscal/Historical_Expenditures_Pivot.xls.

[5] Trigger information is available online at http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2011/06/full-details-on-the-trigger-me.html

[6] See page 16 of http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/committee/c2/hearing/2005/april%2020%20%202005-uc%20csu-%20public-%20cm.doc.

[7]State income tax revenue by adjusted gross income class and state income tax revenue from corporations: http://www.ftb.ca.gov/aboutFTB/Tax_Statistics/2009.shtml

[8] Governor’s Budget Revenue Estimates: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/pdf/BudgetSummary/RevenueEstimates.pdf .