In the midst of a devastating budget crisis, the regents decided that freshmen enrollments could be curtailed by 10,000 students next fall if the state does not provide sufficient funding.
During their Nov. 20 meeting in San Francisco, the regents approved a 2009-2010 budget proposal for UC. While the university is facing a large pitfall for the 2009-2010 academic year if the state does not meet its needs, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed an additional $65.5 million mid-year funding cut to UC for 2008-2009.
“The situation we face is serious, and some very tough choices are ahead of us,” UC President Mark G. Yudof told the regents. “We need to preserve access and affordability to the greatest extent possible.”
State support for the UC system has steadily fallen in the last 20 years. According to the UC Office of the President, the state’s per-student spending for education at UC has fallen from $15,860 in 1990 to $9,560 today, adjusted for inflation and growth.
The regents originally planned to include a 9.4 percent total increase in student fees as part of their initial 2009-2010 budget proposal to the state. The registration fee would increase 4.2 percent and the Educational Fee would increase 10 percent, amounting to a $662 annual increase for undergraduates and $748 annual increase for graduate students.
However, the regents ultimately decided to not include increased student fees in the initial budget proposal, as they believed other options should be considered first, said UC Student Regent D’Artagnan Scorza.
“Most of us recognize that the state is in tremendous budget challenges right now,” Scorza said in a telephone interview after the meeting. “Student fees are an option to raise money, but they should not be the first option.”
If the governor and legislators could not make up the difference, Scorza said he believes students would be willing to pay the increase in order to maintain the quality of education at UC.
“Students wouldn’t be opposed to student fees if they knew it would help maintain quality and if we exhausted all other options,” Scorza said. “We don’t want the value of our degree to decrease.”
Now, UC is considering cutting freshman enrollment next year to help close the gap. Currently, UC enrolls 10,000 more students than for which it receives funding from the state, amounting to a cost of $120 million.
While it is far too soon to make definitive conclusions, such a system-wide decrease could mean as many as 1,000 fewer freshmen at UC Davis next year, said Fred Wood, vice chancellor of student affairs.
Transfer student enrollments would likely remain unchanged, as the community college and California State University systems are already impacted, Wood said.
If UC Davis were to cut freshman enrollments next year, many campus programs’ budgets would be adversely affected. Since units such as Unitrans, ASUCD, intercollegiate athletics, the Memorial Union and the Activities and Recreation Center receive funds from UC Davis-specific student fees, cutting enrollment would also mean cutting their budgets.
Wood said the campus will be consulting with students to minimize the impact of cuts, but difficult choices will have to be made nonetheless.
“All of these programs have great value, but nothing is protected,” Wood said.
Even if freshman enrollment were cut, Student Housing would continue to operate at capacity. Available beds would be offered to transfer and continuing students, Wood said.
The UC campuses are already in the midst of a budget crisis this year, as they have seen a $48 million reduction to the 2008-2009 budget. A further $65 million mid-year cut would force the campuses to hire more lecturers and fewer ladder-rank faculty, offering fewer course sections and larger class sizes and cutting library hours and student services, according to the UCOP.
Scorza, the UC student regent, said the state should carefully consider whether further cuts to UC are a viable option.
“We need to tell the state that if we aren’t funded, the impact will lead to decreased quality and less diversity,” he said. “The prison outspends all three segments of higher education combined. Our priorities are off.”
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached email@example.com.
Undergraduate Historical Fees
Registration Fee: $900
Educational Fee: $6888
Registration Fee: $864
Educational Fee: $6262
Registration Fee: $786
Educational Fee: $5850
Registration Fee: $735
Educational Fee: $5406
*Proposed minimum fee increase if not funded by state.