Differential Fee Plan to Be Deferred

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POTS: Proposed Fee Increase

Students and Professors react to the potential $900 fee increase for students of business and engineering.

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Plans to impose differential fees on business and engineering students have been postponed indefinitely, university officials said.

The proposal, which would have increased fees for students in those majors by $900, had been slated for consideration by the UC Board of Regents at its upcoming meeting in November, alongside a proposed systemwide 32 percent increase in student fees by fall 2010.

But university administrators felt they needed more time to look into the impact of the proposed differential fees on underprivileged students before proceeding with the plan, said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

Though the proposal-which was estimated to raise approximately $10 million for the university's general fund-will not appear as an action item to be voted on next month, efforts to revise the plan for possible consideration will continue at a later date, he said.

"The item that went to the regents for discussion back in September clearly says that various implementation issues will need to be addressed, including the return-to-aid component and impacts on access, affordability and diversity, before the proposal is brought to the regents," he said. "That is what's been going on."

The move will allow more discussion on the issue, said Karen Rhodes, executive director of marketing and communications for the UC Berkeley College of Engineering.

"The impact on engineering students and their families is non-trivial, and I think it's good news that more time will be given to this serious issue," Rhodes said.

She added that the differential fees could discourage engineering students from going into the public sector, a concern that must still be addressed by the regents.

"Starting salaries for engineers are probably higher than the norm, but we do have a number of engineers, especially civil and environmental engineering students, who go into the public sector," Rhodes said. "We want engineering graduates to have the option of choosing public interest and public sector work."

Junior Sam Lee, an ASUC senator and electrical engineering and computer science major, said the plan would be more plausible if the university offered more specific information on how it would benefit the system as a whole.

"It feels like it's not a well-planned policy," Lee said. "For one, there has been no studies as to why they are choosing $900. It seems to be an arbitrary number and that the administrators are just desperate on getting some money."

Still, senior Anurag Jain, an engineering physics major, said he is not as optimistic.

"If they're just postponing it, it's still going to come down along the line (and) be an issue later on," Jain said. "But if they can work (out) a way to not even hike fees, that's probably the best for everyone."


Contact Paul Edison at [email protected]

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