UC panel’s plan to raise money comes under fire
Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The University of California should admit more out-of-state students and offer online classes and three-year degrees as a way to raise money, a UC commission said Monday.
A report from the UC Commission on the Future said that if the university doesn’t take such measures, it could be faced with a $3 billion budget shortfall over the next decade. That in turn could force the university to continue raising tuition, cut enrollment, reduce financial aid and lay off staff, the panel said.
The commission’s recommendations will go before the UC Board of Regents at its meeting next week in San Francisco, but it could be months or years before many of the high-profile suggestions are implemented, officials said.
“No single one of these ideas offers the silver bullet to solving the budget problems,” said Nathan Brostrom, UC executive vice president for business operations. “We have to look at all of these measures as a whole to produce a more solid and stable funding model for the future.”
The 27-member commission is a mix of regents, faculty members, students, union leaders and alumni. It is led by regents Chairman Russell Gould, who called for its creation one year ago in expectation of state budget cuts and enrollment declines.
The panel’s report was quickly criticized by faculty members who view online classes and three-year degrees as quick money-makers that may fill university coffers, but ultimately come at the cost of a quality college education.
“These efforts to push people through in three years and moving to online education reflects a privatized model where you bring people in based on how much profit they’ll create,” said Stanton Glantz, vice president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations. “The priorities of the institution will reflect the market interests instead of the public interest.”
Peter Taylor, chief financial officer for the UC system, said offering online courses could make higher education more convenient to students.
“The world is changing around us and we’re trying to adapt and change to that environment,” Taylor said. “We had to decide, ‘Are we going to adapt or dig our heels in?’ We think people will probably appreciate their online classes. Some will think it’s innovative.”
The commission said UC should also try to raise money by increasing the number of out-of-state students, who now make up 6 percent of the campus population and pay nearly $23,000 a year more in tuition than California residents. Bumping their proportion of the student body to 10 percent would raise an extra $4 million a year, the panel said.
Jesse Cheng, a UC Irvine senior and regent who served as a student representative on the commission, said that although he understood the need to raise money, he didn’t fully agree with the panel’s report.
For instance, admitting more out-of-state students may bring diversity to campuses, “but to view them as a revenue source makes it problematic,” Cheng said. “Once we’re doing OK, will we still need them?”
Cheng does support the three-year degree proposal because it would save students money. The commission said such degrees should be restricted to students who have earned college credit in high school through honors classes.
“It’s for students who know what they want coming into college,” Cheng said, “and aren’t going to change their minds halfway through.”
E-mail Justin Berton at firstname.lastname@example.org.