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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Regents Set to Raise Tuition in California by 32 Percent

New York Times
November 19, 2009

The University of California Board of Regents was expected to approve a plan on Thursday to raise undergraduate fees — the equivalent of tuition — 32 percent by next fall, to help make up for steep cuts in state funding.

The state allocation for the 10-campus system, one of the leading public university systems in the nation, was cut $813 million, or 20 percent, this year, leading to a hiring freeze, furloughs and layoffs.

The impact on the University of California campuses has been dramatic: faculty hiring is not keeping up with enrollment demand, and many course sections have been eliminated. Across all campuses, instructional budgets are being reduced by $139 million, with 1,900 employees laid off, 3,800 positions eliminated and hiring deferred for nearly 1,600 positions, most of them faculty.

Several campuses are now planning to admit more out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition, to help close the budget gap. And there is a growing worry that senior faculty may begin to defect to other institutions.

Since the school year began, thousands of students have protested both the budget cuts and the proposal for higher fees, which would bring in-state tuition to more than $10,000 a year. On Wednesday 14 protesters, including 12 students, were arrested at U.C.L.A., for disrupting the meeting of the Regents Finance Committee, which was eventually closed to visitors.

There were large protests on the Berkeley campus as well, by union workers, students and faculty.

Mark Yudof, president of the system, said the University of California now received only half as much support from the state, per student, as it did in 1990. Even with the higher student fees, the system needs a $913 million increase in state financing next year to avoid further cuts. If that extra money is not provided, next year’s freshman enrollment will most likely be cut.

"When it comes to the university’s core support, we have only two main sources — taxpayer dollars from the state and student fees,” Mr. Yudof said. “Even with deep administrative cuts, when one goes down, the other almost inevitably must go up."

To help students who cannot afford the increasing fees, the Regents are also expected to approve the expansion of the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, for undergraduates whose family income is below $70,000.

by: Tamar Lewin

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