In protest of future tuition increases, student demonstrators temporarily halted the UC Board of Regents meeting which took place from Nov.13-15—just one week after voters approved Proposition 30. Convening at the UCSF Mission Bay, the regents passed the 2013-2014 fiscal budget, which included a request of $267 million in additional state funding, meant to prevent a 24 percent increase in student tuition over the course of four years. Additionally, the regents delayed talks of possible professional degree increases, at the request of Governor Jerry Brown, who attended the meeting.
As a result of the passage of Governor Brown’s Prop 30, the UC regents did not enact systemwide tuition increase of 20 percent, or $2,400, for the 2012-2013 academic year. Prop 30 funnels nearly $6 billion of income and sales tax revenue into the General Coffers for K-12 and public safety, but temporarily deters tuition increases for higher education in California. The tax measure is expected to reduce the state budget deficit to $1.9 billion, along with projected surpluses by 2014.
“We’ve had cuts. We’ve had a lot of cuts. And with Proposition 30 we have some revenue…Together it puts the state in a very solid position for a sustainable balanced budget for years to come,” stated Brown.
Governor Brown, an ex-officio member on the UC Board of Regents, made a rare appearance at the UC Regents meeting. On the heels of Prop 30’s passage, Governor Brown participated in discussions about tuition and fee increases for UC students; with many falling between the ages of 18-29, students were a large part of the demographic’s 28 percent of the total state electorate this year.
The regents predicted an increase of six percent for the following year if additional state funding is not provided to the UC. Yet, Governor Brown expressed the unlikely chance of shifting additional state funds, deeming the request untenable.
“Students and families will be angry and shocked if, after voting for a [six billion dollar] revenue increase, they continue to pay more and get less from the UC,” stated UCSA President Raquel Morales, “The potential annual six percent fee increase [is] an unacceptable attack on the accessibility and affordability of the UC system, with the continued disinvestment from our education.”
However, UC President Mark Yudof expressed the likelihood of obtaining a multi-year funding agreement between the universities and the state legislature. “The University of California, for the first time in my four years here, finally has a good shot at attaining a sense of fiscal stability,” he said.
While UC Provost Aimee Dorr warned that Prop 30 is “not a magic bullet,” she praised it as an opportunity to pursue alternative revenue routes such as capital improvement and expedited expansion of online courses.
Through the Working Smart program, the UC aims to save $500 million over a period of five years with 34 aggressive cost-saving measures. Governor Brown urged the expansion of online courses to accommodate the immense reduction in classroom sizes and faculty-to-student ratio, while being “judicious” in spending.
Other discussions included increases in out-of-state enrollment, which averages 8.8 percent through the UC system. UC student regent Jonathan Stein criticized the measure as “clustering” of non-residents into larger universities.
On the eve of Nov.14, UAW Local 2865, also known as the UC Student-Workers Union (SWU), hosted a sleep-out event at the regents meeting. Led by UAW event organizer and UC Berkeley sociology major, Charlie Eaton, students rallied against acts of UC privatization such as tuition hikes and increases in professional degree supplemental tuition (PDST).
PDST is stacked atop of the typical undergraduate tuition and packaged for those who enroll in certain UC programs such as in areas of law, medicine or dentistry. Vice Chair of UCSA Erik Green argued the privatizing nature of increased PDST, which turns more academic programs into professional ones, as a form of revenue creation. Over 50 professional programs throughout the UC system would be affected, such as those at the UCR Extension Center.
The UC Board of Regents temporarily removed the PDST discussion from their agenda, at the request of Governor Brown, who also has the authority to remove budgetary items from the state budget.
The next regents meeting will take place from Jan. 15-17 at the UCSF Mission Bay.