Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The state of UC

The stakes have gone up for Prop 30, the governor's tax initiative, which will cost the UC $375 million in state funding if it does not pass. In turn, the UC will discuss at the next regents meeting a plan to raise tuition by 20% in case the voters do not support the proposition. It should be clear to the citizens of California that a small tax increase will help protect higher education in California; however, the proposition is only polling at 52%.

A related issue is how the UC spends the money it does get from the state. As last year's state audit showed, state funds are distributed to the campuses on an unequal basis, and the result is that the smaller campuses without medical schools and law schools are poorly funded. Also, the campuses with the highest number of under-represented minority students receive the lowest funding.

In order to correct this problem of unequal funding, a task force has been working on increasing campus equality, but they have run up against several hurdles. First of all, UCOP refuses to provide an estimate of how much it costs to educate undergraduates versus graduates versus medical students. Instead, they have helped to develop a weighted system where each resident undergraduate and masters level student counts as 1, each doctoral student counts as 2.5 and each medical student counts as 5. The current level of state funding per campus is then divided by the student enrollment level for each of these student groups. Even when we take into account the fact that some campuses have more medical and doctoral students, there is still an uneven distribution of funds.

The major problem with this whole methodology is that it does not prevent some campuses from simply increasing their number of highly funded medical and doctoral students. Moreover, campuses are now able to keep their tuition dollars, and the same campuses with medical centers and/or high levels of doctoral students are also the ones with the highest number of out-of-state students. The end result will thus be that rich campuses will get richer, while the poor campuses will get poorer.

While the task force does recommend a slow process of increasing the funding of some of the campuses to keep up with the weighted average of UCLA per student funding, the task force failed to justify its calculation of the weighted averages. Since no one is even trying to estimate how much it actually costs to educate different types of students, it is unclear how the task force is making its calculations. While it is very possible that we will see a growing inequality of funding among the campuses, it is not clear that the campuses with more funding will increase their support for undergraduate education. For example, if a campus brings in more medical and doctoral students to increase their share of state funding, and these students cost much more to educate than the assumed weighted averages represent, then the wealthier campuses will have to continue the process of using undergraduate tuition to subsidize expensive graduate and professional program. Until UCOP decides to actually estimate the actual cost of education, all of the decision makers will be making important choices in the dark.

27 comments:

  1. Budgets for each department are publicly available... it is straightforward to do a regression analysis and determine the departmental cost per grad and undergrad, removing extramural funding, etc. I think the ratio of $ grad to $ undergrad is more like 7, and the departmental cost per undergrad is maybe $3000/year. Of course there are campus-wide costs too, don't know how they contribute.

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  2. They used to use a more fine-grained system. I think it was 1 for lower-division, 1.5 for upper division, 2 for MS and pre-advancement grad, 3.5 for PhD advanced to candidacy, but it was so long ago that I don't remember.

    I think that the finer-grained system is better, in that upper-division students really do cost more to teach (smaller classes with more tenured faculty).

    One problem with using regression to get estimates is that there are a lot of confounding variables (like what subject is being taught). Most of the department budgets go to salary, and that is often related more to research prestige and field than to the mix of students taught.

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  3. University of California negate the promise of equality of opportunity: access, affordability is farther and farther out of reach. Self-absorbed Birgeneau, Breslauer are outspoken for public UC Berkeley ‘charging Californians much higher’ tuition. Cal. Chancellor Birgeneau, Provost Breslauer leave an indelible legacy on access, affordability.

    Cal. tuition is rising faster than costs at other universities. Believe it: Harvard College cheaper than Cal. Breslauer’s Birgeneau, decision to ‘charge Californians higher tuition’ means Cal. nationally ranked #1 public university total academic cost - resident.

    Birgeneau ($450,000) Breslauer ($306,000) like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving them every dollar demanded. The ‘charge Californians higher’ tuition skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011-12 academic years. If Chancellor Provost had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over the past 10 years they would still be in reach of most middle income students. Breslauer Berheneau increase disparities in higher education and defeat the promise of equality of opportunity. An unacceptable legacy for all Californians.

    Additional funding should sunset. The sluggish economy and 10% unemployment devistate family education savings. Simply asking for more taxes to fund self-absorbed Cal.senior leadership, old inefficient higher education models and fund excessive faculty staff compensation, burdensome bonuses, is not the answer.

    UC Berkeley is to maximize access to the widest number of Californians at a reasonable cost: mission of diversity, equality of opportunity. Birgeneau’s Breslauer’s ‘charge Californians higher’ tuition denies middle income families the transformative value of Cal.

    The California dream: keep it alive at Cal. fire (honorably retire) Provost George W Breslauer. Birgeneau resigned.

    Opinions? UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators, Assembly members.

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  5. The current level of state funding for fields divided by the level of student enrollment in each of these groups of students.

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  6. Do you really think it can help to higher education? I don't think so

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  7. What makes me crazy is that the University has already agreed to huge salary increases. However, the union will not budge about a new retirement tier that requires new hires (as of July 1, 2013) to retire between ages 55 and 65, instead of the current ages of 50 and 60. I'm scared to death about those babies in the ICUs if my staff goes out on strike, as expected. I pray the judge stops it.
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