Crises breed creativity – and now the University of California has opened its mind in search of ways to increase funding.
“Work groups” have been created across the board in search of answers. Two of the strategies under discussion are the creation of a differential pricing system among the UC’s nine campuses and an attempt to raise foreign or out-of-state student enrollment.
In a draft of “Issues to Consider,“ the work group on Funding Strategies asks, “Should funding for campuses be ‘tiered‘ in order to recognize specific priorities?”
A tier-system would likely feature Berkeley and UCLA at the top; Davis, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz in the middle; and Irvine, Merced and Riverside at the low end.
Jeffrey Bergamini, a UC Davis interdisciplinary studies programmer, said tier tuition would not all be about undergraduate instruction, but that a lot of it would support other entities.
“There is some pretty good indication that a lot of tier tuition would just subsidize other parts of the UC,” Bergamini said.
Bergamini said that while the tier system could ‘get it right‘ and keep spending proportional – since Berkeley and UCLA have more buildings and labs that need funding than Merced and Riverside – what worries him is the unstated allocation of fees.
“The thing that worries me about making these tiers is that it‘s missing the point that undergraduate tuition isn’t going where you think it’s going,” he said. “It is clear that the higher-ups at the UC want to focus on increasing revenue.“
One topic under review by the Access and Affordability work group is nonresident enrollment. The ‘Issues to Consider‘ draft asks “Does increasing the proportion of UC undergraduates who are nonresidents offer opportunity for maintaining the size and quality of campuses and programs during an era of diminished state support?”
UC spokesperson Leslie Sepulka said that individual campuses may be considering modest increases or may experience increases in the proportion of nonresident students because of lack of growth among state-supported students. However the University does not have serious plans for prioritizing nonresident enrollment.
Bergamini said he has heard of the push to increase nonresident enrollment, and that it is part of the trend to institutionalize the UC system.
“I could understand the drive for that, because the more people you have paying full price, the more you can subsidize other things,” he said.
Sarah Raridon, chair of ASUCD’s Gender and Sexuality commission, said accessibility for California residents should come first, instead of targeting overseas students. This defeats the purpose of educating California‘s future workforce – including non-citizens.
“There are a lot of [undocumented people] in the UC and I know a lot of people who have grown up here and are by all other means Californian, but they don’t have citizenship and are being pushed out by the UC,” she said. “And that’s sad.“
Sepulka said nonresident enrollment is merely one of several issues on the table.
“At the system level, we have no current plans to increase levels of out of state students or international students,” she said.
MICHAEL DORSEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.