UC Commission on the Future Releases Initial Findings
UC Commission on the Future Recommendations: First Round »Click here to read the first round of recommendations presented to the UC Commission on the Future by its five working groups.
Date Added Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | 3:00 pm
Last Updated Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | 9:27 pm
Category: News > University > Higher Education
SAN FRANCISCO--The UC Commission on the Future will consider about 30 dramatic reforms to the University of California Tuesday, including proposed multiyear student fee increases, the establishment of 40 online undergraduate courses and a substantial increase in the number of nonresident students to be enrolled at the university.
Five working groups will report to the commission Tuesday, which was established last July in order to examine a future course for the university, which was rocked by a $637 million state budget cut this year alone. After months of public forums, meetings and discussion, the full commission will hear initial recommendations from the work groups that were released this morning by the university.
After the meeting, the systemwide Academic Senate and student government organizations will review the recommendations before they can be revised and sent to the UC Board of Regents for approval this July.
UC President and co-chair of the commission Mark Yudof said though the recommendations are "inevitably bound to be controversial," they are necessary given years of reductions in state funds.
"What you are hearing is a brave first take (on changes to the UC)," Yudof said. "This is part of the healthy process of airing different perspectives."
Though many recommendations from the work groups conflict with those from other groups, acquiring funding to maintain academic quality throughout the 10-campus system figures prominently throughout the 30 recommendations.
"Even if we were in a very good time (for UC finances) this work would be of great value the university," said Senate Chair Henry Powell.
The education and curriculum work group, co-chaired by Christopher Edley, dean of Boalt Hall School of Law, and Keith Williams, a UC Davis associate professor of exercise biology, recommends increasing the proportion of students graduating in less than four years from the 2005 level of 2.9 percent, a move that could save money and free up space for undergraduates, according to the report. The group also proposes creating a three-year degree program incorporating priority registration, summer school and the full use of any Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or honors credits.
Additional recommendations from the group include the implementation of online courses in order to increase student access to courses, decrease the time necessary to acquire a degree and reduce the costs of education to both students and the state. The report recommends "the pursuit of the pilot project being coordinated by the Office of the President which ... will develop and deliver up to 40 online undergraduate courses, evaluating their quality, learning effectiveness, workload impacts (and) costs."
A crowd of around 80 protesters gathered outside the Fisher Banquet Room on the UCSF campus while the commission heard reports from the work groups, chanting, "You see Regents, I see racists."
Many people in the crowd said several of the recommendations being presented did not offer meaningful change and would only have a detrimental effect on students.
"If you are putting classes online you are not going to maintain quality they keep on talking about," said Alejandra Cruz, a third year law student at UCLA who drove up for the commission meeting.
The proposal's recommendations include streamlining degree requirements by reducing the number of upper division requirements and raising the required average workload of students to 15 credits per quarter or semester while "putting stricter limits on the maximum number of units allowed over the course of undergraduate study," according to the report.
Several recommendations from the work groups outline a perceived need for future student fee increases. But proposals differ as to how to offer financial stability to both students and the university.
"California fiscal experts agree that the state's severe fiscal problems are likely to persist for several years," a recommendation from the funding strategies work group reads. "The Regents should be prepared to approve tuition increases sufficient to contribute significantly to the University's funding needs, thereby protecting its academic quality."
The same work group, co-chaired by Steve Olsen, vice chancellor for finance, budget and capital programs at UCLA and Gene Lucas, executive vice chancellor at UC Santa Barbara, recommended adopting one of three multiyear student fee increases ranging from "low increases" of 5 percent annually to "aggressive increases" of 15 percent annually, both for five years. The recommendation states the plan would better allow students and families to predict the costs of attending the university, though the multiyear plan would not guarantee student fee levels.
The funding strategies work group considered but did not endorse a recommendation by the access and affordabilty work group that would increase student fees for each entering class at a fixed rate--possibly the inflation rate--for the four years a student is enrolled at the university.
"While cohort-based tuition could be incorporated into a multiyear tuition plan, uncertainty regarding state funding would expose the university to substantial financial risk under such a plan," the funding strategy working group recommendation reads. "A cohort-based approach would reduce the university's flexibility to respond to budget changes and thereby expose affected cohorts to greater tuition hikes."
Alongside proposed changes to university curriculum and student fees are two separate recommendations that would substantially increase the number of nonresident students in the system. The two work groups proposing the increase in nonresident students--funding strategies and size and shape--differ in their implementation, yet aim to take advantage of the additional $22,879 in tuition revenue that each nonresident student pays.
A recommendation by the funding strategies work group proposes that doubling the number of nonresident student to about 15,200 by 2015-16 could raise an additional $174 million in revenue for the university.
Whether the proposed influx in out-of-state students would replace enrollments currently unfunded by the state has not yet been determined. The university could raise an additional $98 million in revenue if the additional nonresident students do not replace the enrollments currently unfunded by the state.
To achieve that increase, the work group recommends the university decrease fees for nonresident students in order to keep the UC competitive with research universities nationwide.
"Total tuition paid by nonresidents would be limited to $5,000 under the levels charged by Harvard, Stanford, and similar institutions. Under some models calling for more aggressive increases in resident tuition, this would require actual reductions in the level of nonresident tuition in future years," the recommendation states.
The size and shape work group also proposes an increase in the number of out-of-state residents as well--though members of the work group could not determine a minimum or maximum number in time for the meeting.
The recommendation says the additional revenue from nonresidents would increase access to the university as long as the new enrollments do not displace state-funded resident enrollments.
"Given the reduction in state support for new enrollment, this recommendation is likely to result in fewer unfunded resident students at campuses," the recommendation reads. "This is particularly true for campuses that are near or at their maximum physical capacity."
The research strategies working group, co-chaired by UC San Francisco professor Mary Croughan and UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang, recommends the streamlining of research practices in order to realize potential savings for the university totaling hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
"The university collects over $780 million in indirect costs on grants and contracts per year, yet it spends an estimated $1.5 billion on facilities and administrative support for these grants and contracts," the report reads. "Currently, the University is underwriting the cost of conducting research."
To remedy this, the work group proposes negotiating higher indirect cost recovery rate--the rate of overhead costs covered by the sponsoring organization--to reduce the current gap ranging from 5 to 18 percentage points between the UC calculated rates and the final negotiated rates, which amounts to "several hundred million dollars per year systemwide," according to the report.
The group recommended streamlining risk management practices as another way to cut costs. By relaxing the research policies that "are making highly creative and innovative research more difficult," researchers would be able to spend more time performing research and collaborating with colleagues around the world, according to the report, which stated that researchers engaged in federally sponsored studies spent 42 percent of their time doing administrative activities before and after instead of the research itself.
"Streamlined administrative practices and decreased administrative burdens on faculty will result in increased research opportunities for students," the report reads.
The work group also proposes establishing a multicampus "UC Grand Challenge Research Initiative" to tackle problems facing the world today--a move that could create new streams of revenue for the university.
"UC is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in addressing grand challenge research problems of the 21st century," the report read, asserting that UC's many campuses and academic strengths make it an ideal institution to undertake research of that magnitude.
The establishment of such a program could give the university "a competitive advantage for funding from federal major sponsors," such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, creating new revenue streams, according to the report. The program, in addition to garnering increased external funding, would also lead to the pooling of systemwide resources and facilities in order to keep costs down.
Contact Jordan Bach-Lombardo and Javier Panzar at [email protected]
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