UC Regents Consider Options to Offset Budget Cuts

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While students and union workers demonstrated across UC campuses yesterday, the UC Board of Regents debated student fee increases and possible furloughs for university employees to offset increased financial strain.

The recently passed state budget has left the university with $115 million in new cuts.

At their UC Riverside meeting, the regents discussed fee hikes, but put off action until May due to the uncertainty of the university's financial situation.

"Whatever the outcome, we will continue to administer a strong financial aid program that mitigates the effect of fee increases," UC President Mark Yudof said.

The campuses will present strategies today to meet mid-year cuts.

Educational fee increases, which would raise $106.7 million for the university, have been under consideration for more than a year. Although campuses are currently factoring a 9.3 percent increase into their summer session tuitions based on state budget recommendations, the regents stressed there is no official proposal yet to do so.

"It is clear that over the last 40 years, when you see the amount of support from the state per student and how much it's declined, it has by and large been picked up by student fees," said UC Regent Richard Blum. "When we talk about raising student fees ... it isn't something that we take lightly."

At the meeting, regents approved the establishment of a nursing school at UC Davis and reviewed the progress of student mental health programs, which got an additional $8 million in registration fees for 2008-09.

To meet the cuts, Yudof said it may be necessary to implement salary reductions and furloughs, or mandatory unpaid workdays, for all UC employees next year.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who gave a presentation on the campus's academic and financial situation, said it is facing a $67.2 million shortfall overall and will be looking at furloughs as well as scaling back on faculty hiring.

"But we can't sustain that inevitably," he said. "Faculty are needed (for the campus) to prosper."

Of the mid-year cuts mandated by the state, UC Berkeley's share was $15 million, $10 million of which will become permanent reductions next year. Birgeneau said the campus borrowed from the campus's $600 million pool of dedicated funding to deal with this year's shortfall.

"We decided we didn't want to cancel classes or eliminate any lecturers (and) hurt students," he said.


Rachel Gross is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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