After increasing tuition nine times over the last ten years, undergraduates in the UC system will now be paying more than 200 percent what their contemporaries ten years ago had paid, in order to pay for a bigger UC bureaucracy. Since 2000, the UC administration has also increased in size by more than 200 percent.
At the UC Regents upcoming meeting on July 12-14 in San Francisco, the Regents plan to discuss an additional 9.6% tuition increase. If this tuition increase is passed, it will raise costs for an instate student from $11,124 to $12,200 for the coming academic year.
In March 2011, the President of the UC Regents, Mark Yudof, told students to be prepared for a possible mid-year tuition increase of 32% for 2011-2012 if state funds are not restored. At the current rate of tuition increases, it has been estimated that instate student tuition could hit $25,000 by the 2015-2016 academy year.
To understand the effect of this increase on a UCSD undergraduate, the cost of fall tuition alone in 2003-2004 was $2,035.50 while in 2011 it will have increased to $4,352.56.
Mark Yudof said in 2009 that the tuition increases were unfortunate but necessary because, “When you have no money, you have no money.” Yet why does the UC system have no money? The students are paying more and the faculty is shrinking so those cannot be the problem. Rather it is the administration that is to blame for its continued expansion. Since 2000, the size of the UC administration has increased by more than 200%. In addition, the number of UC employees that are making over $200,000 has grown. This bureaucratic growth comes as no surprise when considering the power of the University of California’s public employee unions. Much of the salary increases were the result of “automatic longevity raises mandated by union contracts.”
UC President Mark Yudof has continued to negatively affect the UC budget as well. He was ranked 76th among top-paid employees, earning $577,650 in 2009. This comes as no surprise as he was the highest paid public administrator serving public education in the United States while he served as the head of the University of Texas in 2003.
As the administration continues to expand the stress they place on undergraduates increases. At UC San Diego class sizes continue to grow, required classes are less frequent, and the hiring freeze has made many UC faculty members to fear for their jobs, but not administrators. UCSD has just added the new position of the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Inclusion, & Diversity during the 2010-2011 academic year.
In 2009 the UC System Total Budget was around $19 Billion, which is more than the economies of many small countries. In addition, the UC system has more employees than some Fortune 500 companies. $5.6 Billion (29.47% of the total budget) amounted to the Core Funds, which are needed to continue the mission statement of education. $3.2 Billion (57.14% of the Core Budget or 16.84% of the total budget) comes from the State of California. Although the undergraduate education budget is not even 1/5th of the total budget, it amounts to the majority of received state aid. As the State has been forced to tighten its belt, the student body of the UC System has been left footing the bill. The UC Regents who are responsible for the management of this budgetary process have failed miserably. Their lack of accountability to the UC students and California taxpayers needs to change.
California Students are waking up to the fiscal irresponsibility that is surrounding them in the UC system. We need to ask the hard questions and demand accountability of those who claim to work for us. With these continually rising costs students are starting to wonder if their degree is worth the expenses associated with it. Until the UC Regents and UC administrators are transparent and accountable to their students the quality of our education will continue to deteriorate.
Alex is a senior in Eleanor Roosevelt College double majoring in biochemistry and history.