By Jason KUROSU
The University of California Board of Regents will vote next week on a proposed tuition increase which would raise tuition fees by as much as 5% over the next five years for both graduate and undergraduate students.
The proposal would raise tuition from $12,192 to $12,804 next fall, even with an expected increase in funding for UC schools. The plan does allow for a lowering or elimination of these increases should additional funding come from the state.
UC President Janet Napolitano and the Board of Regents announced the proposed plan on November 6, stating that the “stability plan” would allow the University of California system to hire additional faculty and bring more students into the system with better access to financial aid.
“We have frozen tuition for three years, continued to maximize operational efficiencies, reduced staff, stepped up our fundraising and deferred critical maintenance,” Napolitano said. “We hope the state will partner with us by increasing its investment in UC. But we can’t wait any longer. We cannot cut or defer our way to excellence.”
While proponents of the plan have pointed to a lack of state funding, particularly a lack of Proposition 30 funds, critics of the proposal have pointed to recent raises awarded to UC Chancellors by the Board of Regents as a counterintuitive measure.
Gavin Newsom, who serves as lieutenant governor of California and an ex officio regent, said in a press release, “The University of California cannot bestow pay raises on its top earners with one hand, while continually taking more from students and their families with the other and deflecting criticism by laying its solution at the door of taxpayers. New funding must be tied to earnest and innovative attempts to reduce the university’s cost structure and promote affordability and accessibility, not threats that reward the status quo.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released a similar statement regarding financial burdens to students and the raises given to UC Chancellors.
“I firmly oppose the proposal to raise tuition at the University of California,” said Torlakson. “As I traveled the state over the past few months, I heard numerous stories about how skyrocketing tuition hurts all students, burdens struggling and middle class families, and leaves many college graduates with crushing debt. Now is not the time to increase the financial burden for students and families, especially after the regents just gave 20 percent raises to some chancellors.”
Chancellor salaries were increased by as much as 20% in order to bring UC Chancellors’ income more in line with those of chancellors nationwide, with data based on the College and University Professional Association (CUPA) Administrators in Higher Education Survey and Mercer University Chancellors Compensation Survey Report.
The September 2014 report by the Regents’ Committee on Compensation stated, “Considering these four chancellors’ scope of responsibilities, performance, and contributions when compared to external counterparts as well as UC peers, the proposed salary increases for them would begin to address issues of maintaining competitive compensation for arguably the most important positions within the UC system.”
Though the latest budget promises a 4% increase in funding to the University of California, a lack of sufficient funding overall remains a primary issue behind the proposed tuition increase.
Mary Gilly, a faculty representative to the regents, said, “Certainly the University should, and is, pursuing the alternative of increased state support above the 4% promised. That 4% increase of the state portion of the budget represents only an increase of 1.7% of UC’s total budget, far below the increase in our mandatory costs. The option of a tuition increase is needed if the state is not willing to restore funding to UC.”
The Board of Regents will vote on the five-year plan at their November 19 meeting.