The Daily Californian Online

Despite Protests, Fee Increases Move Forward

By Zach E.J. Williams
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Category: News > University > Higher Education

LOS ANGELES-Amid student protests at UC Berkeley and UCLA, the UC Board of Regents Committee on Finance approved on Wednesday a 32 percent increase in undergraduate student fees, to be fully implemented by fall 2010.

Starting next semester, undergraduate resident students will pay $7,473 in systemwide educational fees. This amount will be increased to $9,402 by next fall. Combined with the $900 systemwide registration fee, the increase marks the first time that the cost of an undergraduate UC education for residents will exceed $10,000.

University officials said the increase is expected to generate more than $250 million in revenue next year.

Student Regent Jesse Bernal was the sole dissenting vote of the nine-regent committee after Regent Eddie Island, who said he has never voted in favor of an increase, placed an affirmative vote. The full board is expected to approve the fee increase during its meeting Thursday.

The committee concurrently approved the expansion of the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which will now cover all systemwide fees-up to individual student need-for undergraduates who apply for aid and whose total family income is below $70,000.

Before the increase was approved, the committee meeting was delayed twice due to protests from members in the audience. Five protesters were arrested during the first disruption and police declared an "illegal assembly" after the second action, which came just as regents prepared to vote.

UC Irvine sophomore Michael Karakash, who works in the Office of the Student Regent under Student Regent-Designate Jesse Cheng, said students must work to convince the board to look harder for alternatives to raising student fees.

"There is an actual student voice which is riled up by (the fee increase)," he said. "All (the regents) say is that it's inevitable, but they could change it."

UC President Mark Yudof defended the fee hike following the vote, saying it was unavoidable due to ongoing state divestment from the university, which led to a $637.1 million state budget cut this year.

According to a report from the California Legislative Analyst's Office released Wednesday, the state is projected to run a $20.7 billion deficit from now until a 2010-11 budget plan is enacted.

The committee also approved fees for the 2010-11 academic year for 44 professional programs throughout the 10-campus system. The fees will be implemented over the next three years.

Many programs will see professional fees for the first time, such as the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, School of Social Welfare and School of Information. Professional students at the Haas School of Business will see a 12.1 percent increase in professional fees.

The regents committee approved of all the fees as about 1,000 protesters at UC Berkeley rallied on Sproul Plaza and later marched throughout the city to voice their dissent.

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