So Far, So Good

The UC Commission on the Future's first draft proposal has feasible options officials should continue to pursue.

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The state budget is finally set, but the financial sustainability of the University of California remains uncertain beyond this fiscal year, causing officials to go back to the UC Commission on the Future for innovative solutions. The commission's first draft of its proposal was approved Monday with the hopes of getting the finalized version released by December.

Although strategies that the draft mentions need to be further discussed in depth, we are happy to see that the commission is generating feasible and altogether acceptable ideas.

Three of several systemwide changes being considered might appear particularly controversial: increasing the percentage of out-of-state students, pursuing online curriculum and streamlining the academic process to make a three-year degree program possible. Each has its own merits, but we hope the commission realizes that all of these plans could result in severe repercussions if implemented poorly.

Currently, 6 percent of university undergraduates are from out-of-state, according to data from 2008. The proposed increase of nonresident students ensures that this proportion will not exceed 10 percent of the student body; 90 percent of the student body would still be from California. While we find this slight adjustment perfectly acceptable, we would caution officials to make sure that the percentage is not eroded much further.

Online curriculum remains a sore subject for those who believe these programs would water down the value of a UC degree. We have cautiously supported looking into online education in the past and continue to do so today. However, we think it is ridiculous that proposed tuition for these classes would be the same as traditional courses. That, and likely other details, must be tweaked before the proposal can be seriously considered before online degrees are widely established.

The three-year degree program is also an innovative approach aimed to increase available slots for students. As long as the requirements for the degree remain the same, we do not see how this would result in diminished degrees. In order to make this track a possibility, however, the university should look towards decreasing summer tuition to make it on par with academic year expenses so that students have better affordability and access to take all required courses.

These non-binding proposals are still far from becoming policy and remain in preliminary stages. We would like to see thoughtful deliberations continue to ensure the future success of the university. Yet for now we can see movement forward. There is a long way to go, but at least we've gotten somewhere.






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