The governor-proposed cuts to the University of California system as a result of an impending state deficit will inescapably reduce the quality of its campuses. Addressing a potential $417 million shortfall is not easy and must be dealt with in a variety of ways.
One aspect of the UC system that attracts so many students is the public school price tag. While the plight of the UC system is evident, those in charge should not raise student fees by more than 7 percent. The current and future college-educated demographic of the United States is already burdened by debt, and increasing fees only makes matters worse. For middle-income students who do not qualify for financial aid, fee increases serve as mounting stress. This also holds the potential for students to be priced out of an education they are academically qualified for.
For UC Davis alone, college deans will be faced with the challenge of shaving 2 to 5 percent off their current costs and will each be affected very differently. When deciding which departments to cut, UC Davis must assess whether cuts are being made in the right places. Perhaps weighing students’ interests, comparing college-to-college spending and checking the frequency of resource usage would help ensure that the cuts will negatively impact students as little as possible.
The UC system should be praised for saying it will avoid cutting parts of the budget that affect classroom experiences, such as class size. While it is unfortunate that salaries of professors and administrators might be cut, those individuals will have the thanks and appreciation of many thousands of students who will have an easier time affording education as a result.
At this point, UC Davis has stated that it will not lay off any faculty or staff. Given that the nation is in the midst of a recession, and 63,000 jobs across the country were lost in February alone, it is reassuring that the university will not be contributing to this depressing statistic.
The hardest part of imposing budget cuts on education is the contradictions that it presents – either the quality of the education will be hurt by cutting academic or nonacademic programs, or individuals will have to pay a higher price for that sustained quality of education. Though it is hard to fathom 417 million UC dollars eliminated, some areas should not be cut and a close evaluation of the methodology to do so is imperative. By investing in future economic actors, education spending could potentially bring the nation out of a recession in the long term.