Without More Funding, UC May Cut Enrollment

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SAN FRANCISCO-One day after the CSU system announced an enrollment cut of 10,000 students next fall, the UC Board of Regents said it would be forced to limit UC undergraduate enrollment as well if they did not receive needed state funding.

The regents' finance committee voted 8-2 at yesterday's UC San Francisco meeting to send a statement to state legislators, warning that freshman enrollment would be curtailed if the gap in state funding continues. The statement will be sent along with the 2009-10 budget, which calls for an $815 million increase in revenue.

The statement did not specify by what amount enrollment would have to be reduced. Regents said the statement is meant to impress upon legislators the gravity of the budget situation if the university continues to receive inadequate state funding.

"What we have to do as regents is clearly state to the public and the legislature and governor what it takes to run this university at a level that is acceptable in a minimal way," said Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who voted for the motion.

The university currently enrolls about 10,000 full-time students more than its resources can support, according to the regents.

Despite the potential enrollment reduction, UC President Mark Yudof said he was committed to maintaining access to the university, adding that he supported taking a hard line on calling for funding from the state.

"I think it's our job as regents to forcefully articulate our point of view as the University of California and to make it clear what we need," he said.

Regent Eddie Island voted against the proposal during the meeting, saying underrepresented minorities and poorer applicants would be most affected if enrollment is cut.

"I don't think we ought to, with the data we have now, or the absence of data, target kids and their families whose dreams are tied to the University of California," Island said.

To compel legislators to take immediate action, Yudof suggested holding a special regents meeting in Sacramento and inviting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to witness first-hand the tough decisions the regents are being forced to make.

"It would be bringing the reality that we are confronting directly to the legislature," said UC spokesperson Trey Davis.

For students in attendance, the statement came as a disappointment, especially in light of proposed student fee increases for the 2009-10 school year.

"I think the kind of students who are going to be affected ... were overlooked," said UC Student Association President Lucero Chavez. "Don't make a statement on the backs of students and their families."

Combined with enrollment cuts in the CSU system and decreased state funding toward community colleges, enrollment reductions in the UC system could endanger not just the future of higher education but also the future of the state, said UC spokesperson Paul Schwartz.

"It poses serious threats to the students and people of California," Schwartz said. "Higher education has been the engine that has driven California's success for decades-economically, technologically, scientifically, culturally-and all that is in jeopardy without public support."


Contact Rachel Gross at [email protected]

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