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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Editorial: Unfortunate unit cap

Gov. Jerry Brown’s new spending plan directly concerns every UC student.

If passed, UC and CSU will receive a $250 million increase in state funding. The money comes with a catch, though — Brown is requiring a unit cap of 270 quarterly units, which will be lowered to 225 units two years after implementation. Students who exceed the cap will have to pay the “full cost of instruction,” meaning, out-of-state tuition.

That means students who make a last-minute decision to change their major and have to go over the unit cap would pay roughly $34,000 in tuition alone, as opposed to $12,000.

This is unfortunate.

UC educations are no longer about learning and growing. UC educations are about getting degrees and getting out into the workforce as soon as possible. Brown’s plan — meant to give students incentive to graduate faster — exemplifies what a UC education is all about.

We acknowledge that we’re not in Europe. Students aren’t attending university classes for free and they can’t afford to stay in school for years and years. We know that the European model of higher education doesn’t fit prevailing American capitalist ideologies, and we know that learning, just for the sake of learning, doesn’t happen as much as it should anymore.

So while we try to be realistic and work within the system, the unit cap idea doesn’t seem that bad. It’s a reasonable way to bring in more income for the University while also encouraging potentially lazy students to focus. Plus, it can free up resources and classroom space for more students.

If Brown’s plan is implemented, we hope that the University strengthens its advising services to ensure motivated students can, indeed, graduate on time and avoid enormous fees. At this point, many students say they can’t graduate in four years because they can’t get into their classes. It’s not their fault — it’s the University’s lack of resources. Brown’s plan does state that exceptions can be made, and we hope the University makes use of those exceptions.

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