Though the University of California-wide budgetary reform known as “rebenching” addresses the issue of funding inequality across campuses, the proposed policy lacks nuance in its approach to distributing funds.
The UCLA Academic Senate released a response to the rebenching proposal last week, expressing its adamant opposition to the funding model, which has already started to be implemented. This board agrees with the argument put forth by the Academic Senate: Rebenching, as proposed, is too simplistic.
The reform aims to tie state money allocated to each campus to the school’s enrollment, standardizing the amount of funding for each undergraduate student. Currently, the level of state funding per student is uneven across campuses, with UCLA receiving the most funds per undergraduate resident student at $6,413. In comparison, UC Irvine receives funding amounting to $4,975 per student.
Rebenching aims to bring other UC campuses up to UCLA’s per-student funding level within six years. The reform system will use new money that is supplemental to the UC budget, rather than taking money from schools and redistributing it.
UC officials, by proposing rebenching, recognize a crucial aspect of the UC’s value. As opposed to other state university systems, which have a flagship campus and other satellite campuses, all 10 of the UC’s campuses are excellent.
But attempting to equalize funding across the UC based on a simple headcount of students does not take everything into consideration. Each program has different costs to educate its students. It requires more resources to teach an undergraduate engineering student than an undergraduate in history, for instance.
The UC recognizes the fact that it is more expensive to educate a health sciences student and has therefore exempted UCSF, a health sciences campus, from rebenching. So why ignore the presence of large health sciences sectors at campuses like UCLA and UC Berkeley?
There are also factors, such as regional differences in cost of living, that make it more expensive to pay faculty at certain campuses, said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in an interview with the Daily Bruin editorial board.
Rather than achieving fairness, the rebenching proposal would ignore the complexities of educating a diverse student body at a diverse set of institutions.
We support a funding model that attempts to provide more money to underfunded campuses within the UC system, but we think the execution of the rebenching proposal should be reconsidered.