OK waahmbulance workers, let's play "Balance the UC Budget"

Nov 25 2009 Published by under Education

Okay people, now that you are all fired up about the plight of the poor undergraduates of the UC system, let's get to work. What would you do to keep the undergraduates from having to pay more for tuition and fees?
How about this proposal from some UCSD faculty to close a campus or two?

We suggest, more generally, that in discussions systemwide, you drop the pretence that all campuses are equal, and argue for a selective reallocation of funds to preserve excellence, not the current disastrous blunderbuss policy of even, across the board cuts. Or, if that is too hard, we suggest that what ought to be done is to shut one or more of these campuses down, in whole or in part.

You have to come up with anywhere from $100-$300 million dollars folks so get creative!

Regents board Chairman Richard Blum and Yudof placed the blame on state government, which is expected to cut UC's $3 billion in general revenue funding by at least $115 million next year and not cover an additional $200 million or more in increased salaries and other costs.

12 responses so far

  • whimple says:

    Umm... California has a population of 37 million people, so, like, charge everyone $6 more in taxes? Skip one latte to save the UC system?

  • David says:

    If you were to close even one campus, you would accomplish one of two alternative outcomes. 1) You would severely punish a bunch students by kicking them out of the UC and terminate many faculty and staff or 2) you would punish everyone by diverting the closed campus' students to other UCs, increasing teaching load and class size and compromising the quality of their educational mission. Another potential route to consider is to close programs on campuses that recruit and sustain very few majors/graduates, though this will again severely punish a few to save the many. The increase of $3k in fees, coupled with system-wide cost-saving measures, seems like the lesser of these evils.

  • expat postdoc says:

    pay 50% tax like over here and get free university (and free health care, and 35hour weeks, and 6 weeks vacation PLUS public holidays, and 18 months paid maternity leave, and great public transport, and a viable pension plan, and ...

  • Paul Orwin says:

    That e-mail cracked me up - I could just hear that professor saying that (not literally, I don't know him). I suspect that he is quite sure of which side of the dividing line UCSD would be on - he might be wrong, though! His "excellence" is another man's "elitism". It would be a bloody political fight deciding which campus to close, especially if it required a vote in the legislature. I'm pretty sure he just wanted to express his indignation at being associated with the riff-raff from the other, lesser UCs. And don't even mention the hapless CSU (where I teach) which just happens to educate 2.5x as many students in CA, for considerably less money (even with the recent fee increases). Of course, we actually teach courses, so we have some idea what's going on, as opposed to most faculty in the UC (in the sciences) who at most "coordinate" classes, which means bringing in 15 or so guest lecturers for your 20 class meetings (quarter system numbering). The CA Master Plan for Education was a wonderful idea, that drove the development of the state for 40 odd years (1963? i could be wrong). It's time for a new plan.

  • Morgan Price says:

    My impression is that teaching introductory classes at community colleges (or places like CSU) is cheaper and about as effective as teaching them at a research university. So, one possibility is for UC to specialize in the upper-division classes, by drastically reducing the number of entering freshmen and accepting more transfer students instead.
    Given a focus on upper-division classes, teaching the most highly-specialized classes online should allow a specialist at one campus to reach interested students across the other campuses. This might also reduce costs by increasing class sizes.
    Either of these changes would mean laying off lots of faculty, except maybe in a few well-funded research fields. And as many grad students are funded by teaching, there would also be reductions in graduate admissions. Overall, these changes could save undergraduates a lot of money. I don't know how it would affect the quality of their education.

  • lost academic says:

    How to fix it? I sure don't know. I can't cure cancer or feed the world either, but that doesn't mean I don't have sympathy for those who are so afflicted with disease or hunger.
    The students are in a crappy position and I don't see a good argument that makes a STRONG connection for it being THEIR fault. People choose a college based on many factors, but I have to believe the cost (sticker, but primarily paid costs out of pocket too) and for that cost to increase, suddenly, a significant percentage, sucks. I don't think anyone disagrees that it just fucking sucks.
    That's all. It sucks.

  • bsci says:

    The current situation is ugly and there's no way the next few years are going to be pretty. Even if they can't rescind the tuition hike, I'd like to see a vision what the regents & UCOP see as the values of UC and what they plan to do to get it back there. This is what they should have been doing for the last 20 years and failed. Instead they've been pretending to follow the 1960's master plan while key elements of the plan have been slowly chipped away. The current budget crunch is just removing larger chunks.
    If the Regents matched the tuition hike (hopefully slightly smaller) with a serious vision of the future, I think the protests would be much less.
    My concern is less that tuition might go up and more that that state is supporting UC proportionally less and less. Right now it seems that in 10-20 years, UC will be primarily support by tuition. That will make it a radically different school.
    Will the state make clear legislation to prevent this from happening? If the state won't be able to give more funding back to UC, what is the long term vision of funding reallocation to make sure UC is a place for more motivated and smart but poor students than any college in the country?
    For example, instead of closing universities, could they merge overlapping departments/majors? Would decreasing and simplifying majors do anything real to save money and increase the number of students who can graduate in 4 or even 3 years?
    Should professors teaching load go up? Should tuition be directly linked to family savings?
    UC has a terrible alumni giving infrastructure. Could a bit more investment there pay huge dividends?
    I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but that's not my job. It's the job of the Regents and the UC office of the President. They need to do their job and be as open as possible about what they are studying.

  • msphd says:

    Interesting! Based on my limited exposure to a handful of college campuses around the country, my feeling is that the biggest waste is in administrative salaries. These people are supposed to be support staff, but they are paid enormous amounts to do very little. Get rid of these people or cut them down to part-time; create lower-paying student work-study positions out of the remaining work that needs to be done. Then the students can afford to pay their tuition, plus they get some work experience; and voila! Dead weight is gone.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Either you pay the tuition or agree to a 1% tax surcharge on graduates forever. If the education is valuable, this is cheap. If they don't have jobs they pay nothing. That settles a whole lot of issues. If they don't pay the tax, the whole tuition plus interest becomes due immediately with bounty hunters on the prowl.

  • Or, if that is too hard, we suggest that what ought to be done is to shut one or more of these campuses down, in whole or in part.

    Is UCSD volunteering? Sweet!

  • Onkel Bob says:

    I wonder if Richard Blum has any relation to Dianne Feinstein, infamous war profiteer...
    BTW - That is not an ad hominem argument, I'm just pointing out that the problem UC and all of California faces is not necessarily the result of poor distribution of funds, inadequate tax base or a corrupt political class. The problem is a result of all three, in spades. California has one of the worst tax systems that punishes the person and benefits the corporation. (The infamous prop 13 also caps annual increases on commercial property. So while intended to help grandma keep her house, it also benefits Oracle, Intel, and other technology behemoth's profit margins.) Its methodology for distribution is locked into insane propositions of beggar thy neighbor. And foremost of all, California has politicians that make the most corrupt developing world tin pot dictator green with envy; seemingly exempt from RICO prosecution those gangsters clean up like no others.
    The solution should not be how to fix just UC (and CSU) but rather how to:
    De-gerrymander the state to provide better representation in State and Federal Legislatures.
    Develop and implement an equitable tax system that does not rely on constant adjustment of "fees." (Fees are often used because they don't require the super majority to implement.)
    Identify, indict, convict (and preferably execute) the criminals currently occupying Sacramento and Washington. If people can trust their representative, they won't be susceptible to voting for Propositions 98 et al. Just like the good ol' days, we can make money off the tourists coming to see the hangings. Sending Di Fi to the gallows, that would just be too good to be true, and I sure would go back to see it.
    Fix the state - don't just fix the UC or other systems. There's no use in fixing the roof if the foundation is crumbling and first floor is on fire.

  • bikemonkey says:

    they don't require the super majority to implement.
    Anyone seeing the problem here? another one of the worst ones...and a reflection of the kneejerk anti-tax selfish-arsed sentiment that I'm talking about.

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