August 6, 2012
Senator Michael J. Rubio
State Capitol, Room 2066
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 327-5989
RE: SCA 22
Dear Senator Rubio,
The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) shares your concerns about access to the University of California for California resident undergraduates. Current and pending UC policies create perverse incentives that undermine the unity of the system and the principle of equal educational quality across the campuses. In addition, the Governor of California and the President of the University agreed that the Governor should use his line item veto to remove an enrollment target for the University in the 2012-13 budget and are also in agreement that tuition should rise sharply whether or not the Governor’s ballot initiative passes. They are whipping up a perfect storm that will beat against all three pillars of the Master Plan: quality, access, and affordability.
Current UC policy allows each campus to retain the full amount of the non-resident tuition that it generates. Proposed policy will incentivize each campus to maximize its tuition revenue by decreasing the number of resident students and increasing the number of non-resident students. In the process, California students would be disadvantaged in their access to both the university as a whole and to the campuses that enroll the larger fractions of non-resident students. California students would be more likely to end up on the campuses with lower fractions of non-resident students—exactly the campuses that will have fewer resources per student to support a UC quality education.
Since the UC-stated purpose of increasing the number of non-resident students is to replace lost state funding, a consistent policy would distribute non-resident tuition in the same manner as the state funds. The proposed policy does accept the goal of distributing state funds on an equal per student basis. Thus the non-resident tuition should also be distributed across the system in the same manner.
In our view, these policy issues are properly addressed through principled decisions within the University and in the state budget process. We would not normally advocate the inflexibility of constitutional amendment as the preferred option. However, as already noted, the Governor, with the support of the University President, has vetoed the very modest use of enrollment targets in support of the Master Plan. For these reasons, we support the original, unamended version of your proposal, SCA 22, as a needed mechanism for the legislature to debate the issues and develop an effective response to UC’s policy of using funds generated from non-resident students to weaken the incentives of individual campuses to honor the Master Plan.
The fact that Governor Brown is continuing and, indeed, accelerating, Governor Schwarzenegger’s policy of shifting financing of higher education from a public responsibility to a private obligation of students and their families (often through debt) is driving these UCOP policy directions with which neither you nor we agree. It is our position that the only way to restore the goals of the Master Plan is through a restoration of state funding. We have pointed out that the cost for full restoration to conditions as they existed would be very modest, just $49 per tax return for the median taxpayer.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to restore the promise of public higher education in California.
Vice President for External Relations Council of UC Faculty Associations and
Professor of Physics, UC Davis