Now, the UC Board of Regents is discussing raising the UC tuition by another 32 percent beginning in the Winter 2012 if the state passes an all-cuts budget that would increase to $500 million, cuts that were already signed into law.
“The UC has already been asked to absorb a variety of deep cuts over the last three years,” UC President Mark Yudof said. “And we have strived to maintain our bar-setting quality while also instituting a magnitude of lay-offs, furloughs, hiring freezes and numerous other efficiencies to accommodate those cuts. As a result, in the face of deeper disinvestment, our options are few. And this makes for very hard choices.”
President Yudof went on to call the idea of a 32% midyear fee hike a “nasty scenario.” He said, “It’s not desirable. But people have to understand the grave consequences to this university.”
Much as schools and other local governments are suffering under the uncertainty of state funding, the chancellors and UC Regents are having the same difficulty.
UC Regent Monica Lozano remarked this week, “The lack of predictability and the lack of stability is not good for the students, it’s not good for the families and it’s certainly not good for the chancellors who are trying to look ahead.”
The LA Times reported earlier this week, “The threat of such an increase is partly intended to influence debate in Sacramento.”
Moreover, while the state has about $6.6 billion more in revenue than expected, most of that will go to public schools which have seen their funding cut deeply, but none of it would go to higher education.
Two weeks ago the Vanguard reported that UC workers believe they could save hundreds of millions in cost-saving measures that would be able to protect workers from service cuts.
In their budget alternatives, UC workers say that they highlight hundreds of millions in savings that could be realized without balancing the budget on the backs of student and workers, and without risking UC’s ability to recruit and retain the best qualified patient care providers.
At the same time, UC Regents are planning for the worst, which might mean one billion in additional cuts.
According to their plan, they could achieve $260 million in savings simply by bringing UC’s management ratios in line with best practices, from 7-to-1 to 8-to-1. They write, “An analysis of UC’s payroll data reveals the system-wide ratio of non-management employees to management is about 7-to-1. In contrast, the Texas state government, where UC President Yudof formerly worked at the University of Texas, mandates a worker-to-management ratio of 11-to-1.”
They cite a UC Berkeley study on Operational Efficiency that supports the “conclusion that UC is saddled with growing layers of unnecessary management.”
They write in a briefing memo, “For instance, supervisors at Berkeley’s campus oversee an average of just 4 persons. Systemwide, UC’s employee-to-management ratio is 7 employees to 1 manager.”
The report adds, “Since at least 2004, UC’s management has grown twice as fast as non-management employees. In addition, $1.6 billion in cash compensation went to management in 2009. That’s 8% of the entire UC budget. Managerial bloat is a costly systemic problem throughout all levels of UC.”
They also find that more than $20 million in savings could be achieved by eliminating extra perks for 1,000 of UC’s highest paid. Senior managers receive a number of supplemental health, welfare, and retirement benefits. In addition, many who receive these benefits are paid through state funds, meaning a significant share of their benefits are also state funded.
Two years ago in July of 2009, I wrote of “The End of the California Dream.”
In the 1950s California led the way with an innovative and unprecedented higher education that would enable anyone who wished to, to attend a four-year college and get a college degree. For the next half century, California had a higher education system second to none in the world. There was the world-class University of California system that would take the top tier of studenta and the California State University system that would admit virtually anyone, initially at no cost and but even to this day one of the best deals around.
If this is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, one of the biggest victims will be the California Dream of an accessible and affordable college education.
Since then, things have only gotten worse as higher education has had to endure cuts, furloughs and repeated rate hikes. While California higher education may still be a good buy – a relatively inexpensive education that gives good quality, it is becoming increasingly expensive to put the next generation in school.
Moreover, CSU has taken on huge cuts as well. And the community college system is no longer the point of access for thousands of students to simply show up and put themselves on track for either an associate’s degree or a chance to transfer to a four-year school to get a bachelor’s degree.
We have cut deeply into our investment in the future from K-12, to the community college’s, to CSU and UC. We have priced higher education out of the range of many students, while cutting back on support programs and other services.
These are people that we rely on to run the economy of the future, which will be more reliant on high tech and other skills. These are people that we hope will enable the US to maintain its innovative and technical advantage over East Asian, China, Europe and the rest of the emerging world.
As I have called for so many times, it is time to re-think our priorities.
—David M. Greenwald reporting