State office proposes changes for UC

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With an already existing drop in state funding that has led to increased student tuition for state universities, the state Legislative Analyst's Office released a report April 14 proposing that faculty be less involved in research and that UC tuition rise by 7 percent.

The Legislative Analyst's Office, the state's non-partisan fiscal and policy adviser, was asked to create the report - which advises on potential UC, CSU and community college budget reduction options - in February by state Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Chair Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. The office also proposes cutting supplemental funding to UC Merced by $5 million and reducing enrollment, operating expenses and equipment funding across the system.

But UC Vice President for Budget Patrick Lenz said the funds are necessary because they address student needs relating to financial aid and tuition.

"UC Merced is a campus of the future and $5 million is a small amount of money to address those needs," Lenz said. "It makes more sense to take $5 million from another campus that is far more established."

Additional revenue can be saved by reducing personnel costs by 10 percent at the UC, which could reduce faculty sabbaticals and release time, according to the report. It also recommends faculty to teach more and research less.

But according to Lenz, faculty should not be required to give up research because research grants bring money into the university.

"We teach from our research and we learn what the most contemporary issues are," said Wendy Brown, co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association and UC Berkeley professor of political science. "If these proposals were to be taken seriously, the consequences for University of California would be huge because we would go to universities that value the relationship between teaching and research."

The office has no direct authority over whether UC or CSU systems accept their proposal, but the need for a decision grows as Gov. Jerry Brown will release his official state budget update May 16.

Steve Boilard, director of higher education for the Legislative Analyst's Office, said the office put together the most realistic options given general funding reduction.

"I heard the UC say yesterday that they don't want to raise tuition or cut enrollment any farther, but what are you going to do if there are another $500 million in cuts?" Boilard said. "We recommend spreading cuts along a range of means, rather than suck in one group. This includes faculty being paid less and students paying more."

The report recommends changes in tuition and enrollment levels, increasing UC tuition by $778 to $11,902 for the 2011-12 academic year and reducing CSU enrollment by 5 percent from the level presented in Brown's state budget plan.

"We are already reducing enrollment, with 10,000 fewer students than we would have been able to take under current funding," said CSU spokesperson Erik Fallis. "There is no way to decrease fall enrollment, and we would have to do something incredibly drastic to get enrollment numbers down during spring quarter next year."

UC and CSU officials said they are still considering whether they will take the report into account in their decisions.

"(The office's) recommendation is very different from our long-standing commitment to students," Fallis said.


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