At the last UC Regents meeting, a discussion of the UC budget outlines the following evidence of the deterioration of educational quality in the UC system:
• At UC Riverside, they will walk onto a campus where enrollment has grown in the last three years by nearly 3,000 students – many of them the first in their families ever to attend college – while at the same time the number of faculty has been reduced by five percent. The result: class sizes have grown by 33 percent. Introductory physics classes that used to average 95 students have exploded in size in three years to 573 students.
• At UC Santa Cruz, students will be provided with 84 fewer course offerings and their class sizes will have spiked 33 percent. The student-faculty ratio has exploded by nearly 15 percent, and the campus lacks funding for 125 faculty FTE – 14 percent of its faculty positions. Yet for all the cuts, the campus still faces a daunting $38 million budget gap.
• UC Santa Barbara has over 1,000 more students than it did three years ago, but the number of staff has declined by 450 (nearly 11 percent) during that time, and the faculty has remained the same size. The results are fewer student services, larger classes and discussion sections, and reductions and eliminations in many programs.
• And across the system, pension costs alone will rise to $1.8 billion annually in the next five years – an expense that campuses did not have to shoulder as recently as three years ago. If there is no increase in either State funds or tuition during this time, campuses will have to find the equivalent of funding for 7,000 staff or 3,900 faculty to fund this expense alone.
In other words, classes are getting bigger, courses are being cut, the number of faculty has been reduced, but the number of students has gone up. Moreover, the campuses are about to be hit with major pension costs, and it is unclear whether the state budget will provide any significant funding for the UC system.
These internal budget cuts not only mean a shortchanging of undergraduate instruction, but they also result in a longer time to degree, which in itself restricts access and reduces affordability.