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Analysis of UC

Mark LeVine analysis of UC situation:


VOTE! UC faces catastrophic cuts if prop 30 fails.

Letter from President Yudof
October 25, 2012

Dear Colleague:

With the November election looming, I am writing to encourage all members of the University of Chicago community – students, faculty, staff and alumni – to exercise your right to vote. The decisions made on Tuesday, November 6, will be of great importance for all America, with the presidency and control of Congress on the line. But here in California, the election also could prove pivotal to the University of California and its immediate future.

I refer to Proposition 30, one of 11 statewide initiatives on the California ballot. This initiative, advanced by Governor Brown, would increase income and sales taxes on a temporary basis and thus avoid an assortment of prospective “trigger cuts” that were written into the current State budget, pending the election outcome.

As you probably recall, The Regents last summer took the extraordinary step of endorsing Proposition 30, noting that should it fail our budget will be reduced by $250 million. In addition, $125 million currently in the budget to ensure no increases in tuition through fiscal year 2012-13 will be forfeited.

Sadly, it’s not news that public higher education in California has been battered by declining State support. With an additional blow of this magnitude, The Regents’ resolution stated, “the ability of the University of California to ensure the high-quality education that Californians have come to expect will be jeopardized….”

Let me be clear that it is neither my official place, nor my personal predilection, to suggest how others should vote. You need to look at the facts and make your own informed decisions. In that vein, please allow me to point you to a good starting place:


The above link will take you to a variety of Proposition 30 informational and campaign materials from sources on all sides of the ballot issue. This includes material from those who oppose the measure, arguing that it will increase taxes unnecessarily and burden small businesses.

I also want to take this opportunity to invite all UC faculty and staff to a “web-chat” on Friday, November 2, from noon to 1 p.m. During that hour, I’ll be happy to take any questions on matters that concern the University, including those that relate to the coming election. The following link provides details about how to join in:

Don’t miss live web chat with President Yudof Nov. 2

Thank you for your time and consideration.

With best wishes, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Mark G. Yudof
University of California

Sobering Report on KQED

I heard this driving home Friday night: a radio report about how some good California high school seniors are reluctant to consider UC because they know cuts will continue and quality will continue to decline. This was truly disheartening to hear. We need to restore education as a public good. California Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative which will probably be on the ballot this November is a good place to start. It funds K12, and to a lesser extent community colleges, rather than UC, but it represents a step in the right direction.

University of California or University in California- guest repost

today’s (re) post comes David Meyer, a Professor of Sociology and Political Science at UC Irvine.

The future of the University of California is even more daunting for organizers than the troubled present.

The problem: Students, faculty, and the citizens of California have interests in both access to the University system and maintaining some degree of excellence in the system. It’s extremely hard to focus on both issues simultaneously, and it’s hard to know who to work with and who to trust.

Over the past five years, the University has been fighting losing battles on both fronts. As the state of California has consistently cut funding, the University has cut spending and programs while raising tuition. Most of the ten campuses are working hard to increase the percentage of out-of-state and international students, who pay much higher tuition. It’s a viable revenue strategy, but it’s understandable why California taxpayers are incensed that their University has less room for the young people of California.

Meanwhile, ongoing cuts to programs are affecting the quality of education UC students receive. Saturday’s New York Times reports that students face fewer classes, larger classes, tougher admissions standards, less attention, higher tuition, and even a less demanding education. In addition, applicants seeking employment opportunities have found it increasingly difficult to secure jobs in the NCAA (though that is not to say the situation can’t be helped by a good cover letter). According to the Times, every student may still have access to an academic adviser, but each adviser is now responsible for 500 students (rather than 300 in years past). Is that access? Many professors facing larger classes with fewer teaching assistants now require less writing, shorter and fewer papers. (When I came to UCI, about a dozen years ago, each of my TAs was typically responsible for 80-90 students; 120-140 is now more typical. If this doesn’t seem like much of a difference to you, try to imagine reading and commenting on 40 ten page papers.) Students are unlikely to complain about such reforms, but they’re certainly not being helped.

The University’s management, seeing state support as unreliable, is explicitly moving toward a model where the campuses can function with less of it. A few states have maintained excellent universities with declining support from their state. The University of Michigan, for example, gets only about 17 percent of its budget from the state of Michigan. It charges nearly $40,000 a year in tuition from out of state students, and those higher paying students make up about 40 percent of the undergraduates.

The Michigan students who gain admission can get a great education even as the state continues to cut support, but fewer Michiganders can get in. I’d guess that fewer of the graduates are going to be eager to stay in the state after graduation. The University will be responsive to the people who help it keep operating. State legislators and tax payers who are getting less deference and responsiveness from the University are even less likely to want to contribute to it. Yipes!

This is one possible future for UC campuses, and it’s not an attractive one. The Council of UC Faculty Associations is ringing the alarm bells about adopting a Michigan model:

UC President Mark Yudof and Governor Jerry Brown are working out a deal behind closed doors that will loosen the most important ties between the university and the state…

Although they will both praise the deal by saying that it “stabilizes” funding while granting greater “flexibility,” its essence is that each will let the other off the hook: UC will mute complaints that it does not get enough money from the state and the state will stop holding UC accountable for the money it still gets.

The likely result is that UC will dump a larger number of eligible Californians onto the CSU and Community Colleges, which will in turn pass on their overflow to for-profit schools, where students take on inordinate amounts of debt with a very high likelihood of default.

* UC will no longer promise the state that it will admit a fixed number of California students in return for the enrollment funding that the state provides. For next year, and presumably from now on, UC will be allowed to use taxpayer funding as it pleases, without being accountable for the number of in-state students it educates (http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis/2012/highered/higher-ed-020812.pdf, pg. 19). This means that UC is likely to enroll fewer California students, and to replace them with out-of-state and international students who pay more. The likely result is that UC will be able make more on average from its enrollments, that the state is likely to pay less, and that middle-income Californians will get less access to UC…

UC will be able to say that how much it spends to educate Californians and how many of them it enrolls is its own business, and not the state’s. If UC thinks its traditional mission is a money-loser, it can now use its continuing, but declining, revenues from the state to diversify into fields where it sees a brighter future. It will not be expected to draw on its other, more entrepreneurial, activities to subsidize public higher education, but instead will be allowed to use state educational funds to subsidize these other activities — and especially the capital projects necessary to get them off the ground…

An alternative model is to focus on delivering whatever we can with limited funds, continuing to increase class sizes, cut salaries, maintenance, and offerings. It is definitely possible to spend less, but only by providing less. Look: the California State University system delivers less and charges less. Of course, CSU is also facing severe cuts. Many states have decided to forgo subsidizing a top-flight research university system.

That’s another possible future. Alas, I fear that focusing only on stopping tuition hikes leads that way. Californians who want a top flight research university education can apply to institutions that deliver it–and find a way to pay.

Probably like most faculty, I’d prefer to return to the system laid out in the Master Plan more than fifty years ago–high investment and minimal tuition–and to pay taxes for it.

Lots of Californians will disagree with me, which is fine, but they should articulate the model they prefer for public higher education. There are plenty of real examples out there, but please don’t lean on the imaginary ones, in which spending can always be cut without compromising what’s bought. We’ll never get more than what we pay for.

A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College

Read the New York Times article with the above headline here.  The total amount of student debt is now over $1 trillion according to this article.  It’s touching that people will pay so much to get an education, and sad that they have to.  Declining state support is not a law of nature—it’s a choice, and we have to make the case that education is a public good.

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