UC Seeks Strategies To Deal with Budget Troubles
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California released proposals to address its ongoing financial crisis that include enrolling more out-of-state students, offering online courses and creating three-year undergraduate degrees.
The first set of recommendations presented to the UC Commission on the Future are aimed at preserving student access and academic quality, as the 10-campus system grapples with unprecedented cuts in state funding.
In response to its budget crisis, the university has reduced student enrollment, furloughed faculty and staff, slashed course offerings and raised student fees by more than 30 percent over the past year.
The commission, which was created in July to develop a new long-term strategy for UC, is looking into restructuring many aspects of the university, including campus size, student fees, academic programs and funding sources.
“There are strong financial headwinds for the University of California,’’ said Russell Gould, chairman of the UC Board of Regents and founder of the commission. “All of this effort is to maintain quality at the University of California. ... We have a financial imperative to look at all options for how we operate.’’
The Board of Regents, which is meeting this week in San Francisco, is expected to consider the commission’s first set of recommendations in July after getting feedback from students, faculty, staff and the public. Another set of recommendations will be released in July.
Among the ideas proposed:
Increase the number and proportion of nonresident undergraduates, who pay tuition that is more than three times that of California residents.
Make it easier for community college students to transfer to UC by making course requirements more consistent across campuses.
Create programs for undergraduates to graduate in three years through summer sessions, credit for advanced high school courses and streamlined majors.
Explore the use of online instruction for undergraduate, graduate and extension programs to reduce costs, expand access to high-demand courses and reduce graduation times.
Establish a multiyear fee schedule for undergraduates so incoming students will know how much they will be paying each year.
Make undocumented California high school graduates eligible to receive UC financial aid.
Allow UC campuses with high student demand, such as Berkeley and UCLA, to charge more than those with lower demand.
Some proposals, such as enrolling more nonresident undergraduates, sparked debate among commission members at their recent meeting.
Backers said the move would generate additional revenue, enhance students’ educational experience and bring talented out-of-state students to California.
But others worried that out-of-state students could displace California residents and undermine public support for the university system, where about 5 percent of undergraduates come from other states and countries.
“There will be opportunity for some very robust debate about these and other ideas,” said UC President Mark Yudof, co-chairman of the commission. But he believes “the fullest possible airing of views is a healthy thing.”