UC Public Education is No Longer Affordable

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It is of no doubt that we find ourselves in tough economic times. The decade's long trend of disinvestment in higher education here in California has put the University of California into a downward spiral, leaving little hope of a recovery ahead.

The fight for an accessible, affordable and quality university has fallen on the backs of the students as budget after budget continues to be balanced at our expense, betraying the California Master Plan for Higher Education that promised a tuition-free institution and education for all those who wanted it.

Student fees for undergraduate students have more than doubled since 2001. Undergraduate students alone have had their educational fees jump up more than 130 percent while graduate students face an increase of over 145 percent since 2001. For professional students, the situation doesn't get any better: by fall 2010, the current costs will increase between 36 percent and 45 percent.

Where has our public education gone?

Despite the number crunching, the fact still remains the same: the cost of a UC education has skyrocketed while services and quality are being scaled back at the same time. It is of no question that UC students feel like they are paying more for less.

This past Thursday, the UC Office of the President announced that there will be a recommendation made to the Board of Regents at the meeting this week to increase student fees. The decision is not surprising and only reaffirms an unfortunate trend here in California.

We have reached a point at which the University of California can longer call itself affordable, and in turn the state can no longer come through on its promise to offer an equal and accessible opportunity for success. This comes only after the announcement that the university will seek to recommend raising fees upwards of around 32 percent through the 2010-11 academic year.

The increase will put us for the first time over the $10,000 mark for fees, and matched by only one other public institution. If and when fees are raised, this will mark the ninth increase in eight years, perpetuating the cycle of privatization we have felt and seen. Fees-the number one obstacle for students wanting to attend and attending the university-cannot continue to rise year after year without doing harm to the longevity of not only the future of the university itself, but that of California.

Alternative solutions need to be sought. The Office of the President, but more importantly, the UC Board of Regents must work harder to forge solutions in conjunction with other organizations and coalitions to ensure the university remains the prestigious research institution many students applied to. Students cannot continue to bare the burden of a State Legislature that neglects its systems of higher education, which arguably is the economic stimulus this economy needs. Students have expressed discontent and will continue to do so.

Proactive solutions are needed to explore new alternative forms of revenue that protect the beneficiaries of the University, not ones that discourage them from applying and staying. If there is any light at the end of the tunnel, it lies in collaboration, communication, transparency, accountability and, most importantly, movement forward.

Come to voice your opinion. The UC Board of Regents will be meeting this week on Sept. 16 and 17 at UCSF Mission Bay.

Tags: UC BOARD OF REGENTS, BUDGET CUTS


Victor Sanchez is the president of the UC Student Association. Send your replies to [email protected]



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