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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Proposal suggests local control for UC campuses

With the continuing decrease in state funding to the University of California (UC) schools and subsequent tuition increases, several people have come up with alternative ways of generating revenue and controlling costs.

One such example is a proposal from the Center for Studies in Higher Education that states that the UC Regents delegate some responsibilities to the campus boards. The proposal was written by C. Judson King, director at the center, and UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.

The publication of this proposal is provoking debate and it is clear that not all support it.

“With State funding now down to 10 percent of total revenue for the campuses, UC needs to generate funding from other (non-state) sources. Such money has to be generated at the level of individual campuses not at the all-university level,” King said.

He said this is the only way to preserve the UC’s public mission.

“These other sources include partnerships of various sorts, issue-specific giving, increased competitiveness to win grants and contracts, and entrepreneurial activities of various sorts including online education, all of which are highly specific to the individual campuses,” Birgeneau told The L.A. Times. “What the campuses would gain from creation of campus boards by the Regents is the flexibility, agility, and dedicated and specific knowledge of the campus that will enable generating those other sources in ways that are best for both the campus and the public mission.”

Since the campuses will still have to follow the broad UC guidelines, the applications and admissions rates to the various campuses should remain unchanged.

There is a further concern on how this proposal will affect tuition rates for in-state versus out-of-state tuition. King states that in-state tuition would stay within the limits set by the regents. However, if out-of-state and graduate and professional tuitions are delegated to the campuses that may result in higher fees at some and lower fees at other campuses because each campus would set the tuition to meet their goals and needs.

“We stated clearly in our article that, upon recommendation of the president, the regents would establish ‘tuition or allowable ranges (upper and lower limits) of tuition for undergraduates who are CA residents,’” Birgeneau also told The L.A. Times.

As to be expected, not all are in favor of the proposal and the changes it suggests. Robert Anderson, a UC Berkeley professor and the chairman of the statewide faculty senate, is strongly opposed to the proposal.

“Overall, I think it would result in an undesirable fragmentation of the UC system. I see little or no benefit in handling our budget challenges. I do not see how it would raise additional revenue or reduce costs. I fear it would be a vehicle for individual campus boards to directly lobby the governor and state legislature on behalf of their campuses and that this would harm the overall funding for the UC system,” Anderson said.

He further states that it is hard to predict the impact on individual campuses, but it might happen that the younger, less established campuses would benefit less. This is due to some benefit more established campuses would see by directly lobbying the governor and the legislature.

Conversely, King states that the proposal will be beneficial because it would be the first time that students were directly involved in the governance of their campus.

“It is not yet a matter of for or against. Our paper indicates that the goal is to start a discussion, and I believe that is happening,” King said.

“We are pleased that our efforts have begun a critical dialogue and discourse on these important issues that will impact California both now and decades into the future,” Birgeneau said in his interview with The L.A. Times.

PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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