SAN FRANCISCO “”mdash; Expanding on budget discussions from previous meetings, the University of California Board of Regents considered specific ways to raise revenue for the system ““ including increasing non-resident enrollment numbers and UC patents ““ at its bimonthly meeting this week at UC San Francisco.
The board reiterated its hopes to establish a multi-year funding agreement with the state following the recent passage of Proposition 30 that saved the UC from millions in immediate trigger cuts. These hopes were reflected in the 2013-2014 budget the board approved Thursday, which assumes the state will give the UC $276.5 million in direct funds.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who sponsored Prop. 30, said in a press conference during the meeting’s break that although state revenues are projected to increase, the state has several other financial obligations and issues to solve on its own.
“I’m going to do the best I can to keep tuition down and get revenue from the state, but also in the context of a lot of other claims people are making,” Brown said.
At the meeting, regents discussed several alternate ideas to increase revenue and save costs, most of which have been discussed at meetings over at least the past two years. Some of the ideas are more contentious than others.
One issue board members disagreed about was online education. While some regents said online education could help fill the rising demand for more courses at a lower cost, others said the quality of the classes could be compromised. The board also debated what exactly its role would be in increasing online courses.
Similarly, UC officials disagreed about increasing nonresident enrollment. Nathan Brostrom, UC executive vice president of business operations, said the extra funds the UC receives from undergraduate nonresidents ““ $23,000 per student ““ also allows campuses to enroll more California residents.
Currently, around 9 percent of the UC student body is from out of California, Brostrom added. Regents discussed bringing the number up to 10 percent or more.
But some officials argued raising the number would jeopardize spots for in-state students. Jonathan Stein, UC student regent, also said flagship campuses, like UCLA and UC Berkeley, tend to have greater numbers of nonresident students and would likely have to bear much of the increase.
“Nothing is off the table. We want to explore everything,” said UC Regents Chair Sherry Lansing during the meeting.
There was general consent in creating a committee to develop technology transfer ““ a process where university scholars partner with private enterprises to patent products from their research and generate commercial profits.
“This is the kind of alternate source of revenue that we have been talking about (so) that we’re not relying on the state,” Lansing said.
Regents also largely supported aligning campuses’ buying practices, which could save the UC $200 million by the 2016-2017 year, said Peter Taylor, the UC chief financial officer.
During the meeting, protesters demanded rollbacks in cuts and tuition, and expressed concern that ““ even after Prop. 30′s passage likely spared the university from a potential fee hike ““ regents were considering raising tuition for next year at future meetings. Groups of protesters circled the conference center on Thursday, while dozens of police stood by with batons and protective masks.
Stein said at the meeting students need to begin fighting for 2013-2014 funding for the UC starting in January, when Brown releases his proposed state budget.
“Today … it was very clear that students can’t rest on Proposition 30′s victory,” he said in an interview.
The next board meeting will take place in January.