The Council of UC Faculty Associations holds Governor Jerry Brown’s slashing of public higher education responsible for UC President Napolitano’s recent proposal to budget for 5% tuition increases every year for the next 5 years.
Raising tuition is not the solution. There is a better way: provide California students and their families high quality, affordable higher education, as defined by the California Master Plan for Higher Education.
The reality is that Governor Brown has not been willing to spend the necessary money to do so even though the cost to do so is surprisingly low.
Here are the financial facts:
• In 2001-02, Gov. Gray Davis provided $3.2 billion ($4.4 billion in 2014 dollars) to the University of California. Tuition was $3,964.
• On taking office in 2003, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut UC’s budget by 15% to $2.7 billion and pressed for rapid tuition hikes to shift costs on to students and their families. By the time Gov. Schwarzenegger left office in 2011, he was providing just $2.9 billion to UC. Tuition had tripled to $11,279.
• Brown cut UC’s provision to $2.4 billion in his first budget (2011-12).
• While Brown has provided small increases to UC in the last 3 years, his 2014-15 budget only includes $2.8 billion for UC, more than one-third less (in real dollars) than Gov. Davis provided more than a decade before.
• At the same time that governors have cut support for UC by one-third, the university’s student body has grown by nearly one-third: from 183,000 to 238,000 students as UC continued to meet its Master Plan obligations.
• While Governor Brown appealed to UC students to help pass Proposition 30 in 2012, he has only allocated 4.5% of the money it raised to UC.
UC’s leaders have responded to these unprecedented cuts by reducing budgets for teaching and research, boosting class sizes, shifting administrative tasks to faculty (leaving less time for students and research), admitting more out-of-state students, and massive tuition hikes that tripled tuition in 15 years.
Along with his legacy of high-speed trains and long-distance water tunnels, Governor Brown needs to restore the promise of the California Master Plan for Higher Education:
• He should budget for all public higher education, including the State University and Community College systems, at levels that will return them to where they were in 2001-2002, adjusted for inflation and student population growth.
• Tuition should not merely be capped but rolled back to 2001-2002 levels, inflation adjusted ($4,717 for the University of California, compared to the $13,860 planned for UC next year).
Unlike many dreams, offering affordable, high quality public higher education to all is a bargain. It would cost the median California household just $50 a year. (Details of calculation at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/3553/restore-2013-14.)
The UC Regents and President Napolitano must represent not only the institutional interests of UC students, staff and faculty but also the fundamental public interest of all Californians to restore one of the few fair-minded systems of advancement still open to anyone, from any background, who works hard and demonstrates talent.