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Friday, January 21, 2011

University of California campuses may be crushed under budget cuts

This week's meeting of the UC's Board of Regents was a grim event.  Governor Brown's budget calls for a $500million funding reduction for the UC system.  That is more than 16% of their direct state funding.  UC President Mark Yudof told UC Regents that the time is fast approaching when the university will no longer be able to offer admission to all qualified Californians, the underlying principal of the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education. Overall, the UC system faces a $1 billion budget gap, half of it from the $500 million Gov. Jerry Brown wants to cut.

Mr. Yudof has asked the 10 campuses and the Office of the President to identify specific solutions to address the budget gap. In March, Mr. Yudof will present the plans to the Board of Regents.  Those solutions are to be based on the principles of preserving UC's core mission; balancing access, affordability and quality; and maintaining UC's status as a public institution.

So, what does that mean?  We won't know until March.  However, they are openly speaking of shifting 10,000 seats reserved for Californians to out of state students.  Depending on where you live, that is good news, or bad.

Already, we have seen excellent schools shift from being 4 year colleges to 5-year institutions.  Class sections have been eliminated.  Numerous majors are "impacted" or over full.  That means a student may not be able to have the major of his or her choice because there are too many students in the department.  The inaccessibility of various courses has a snowball effect.  In order to stay full time, and not trigger loan repayments and other consequences, students take courses they don't need for their major - but other students do.  So those other students can't get their classes, and on and on it goes.

So, when considering college selection, think carefully before putting a UC school on your list.  Even Berkeley is going to be adversely impacted by so many, and repeated, and deep budget cuts.

The Regents will return to their campuses this weekend and have meetings through February.  They will reconvene in March to discuss their plans and the impacts on access, affordability, and quality.

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