Thursday, September 13, 2012

Regents Retreat

One of the most remarkable aspects of the recent regents’ discussion of the future of the university was the lack of discussion of the quality of instruction. While there was some statements that students are still happy with their education and the university is doing a good job at graduating students in a timely fashion, the quality of education was rarely brought up. Instead, the main focus was on how the UC can continue to do what it is doing by moving money around and engaging in some creative financing.

Some possible solutions suggested are to sell off parking and lease it back and reduce the university’s support for healthcare for its employees. There is also the idea to increase nonresident enrollments significantly and to charge different tuition rates for different degrees. The most creative and threatening suggestion was “Eliminate some or all State funding for a few campuses and socialize savings to others, resulting in no restrictions on tuition or nonresident enrollment for campuses with reduced State funding.” The final suggestion means total privatization for the elite campuses, while the other campuses are left to fight over diminished state funds. In reality, the current policies of letting campuses keep their tuition dollars and distributing state funds according to a formula that favors the campuses with medical students and doctoral students moves the UC in the direction of the privatization for the elite campuses and socialization for others model.

While the regents stressed the decreases in state funds, we have recently learned that UC payroll has gone up 29% in the last six years, so the loss of public support has been coupled with a major expansion of the university, especially in the medical area. In fact, there are now many more high-paid employees, but there are fewer faculty and more students. According to the retreat PowerPoint, the state now funds just 11% of the budget, but 97% of the faculty are supported by core funds. This would appear to mean that faculty now are only supported by state funds and tuition, which begs the question of where does all of the money generated from grants, endowments, medical services, and auxiliaries go?