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UCLA budget must prioritize education

By Daily Bruin Staff

January 12, 2010 9:16 pm

Submitted by: Robert Samuels

Last year, UCLA had a $4.7 billion operating budget, but only $234 million was spent on the College budget, which educates over 90 percent of undergraduates and many of the graduate students. In fact, less than 3.5 percent of the total UCLA budget was spent on undergraduate instruction.

Unfortunately, due to the structure of the UCLA budget, almost all of the recent cuts to state funding will be directed towards undergraduate instruction and graduate support. One reason why undergraduates will suffer the most, as their fees go up 42 percent in just over a year, is that 87 percent of the general funds allotted for faculty support goes to Senate faculty salaries, but non-Senate faculty and graduate students teach over 50 percent of the undergraduate student credit hours. In other words, the people doing the majority of the undergraduate teaching are receiving less than 13 percent of the faculty budget.

Making matters worse is that since the College cannot lay off Senate faculty, they can only cut “temporary” faculty, and this means a loss of up to half the classes next year.

While the Daily Bruin reported that the result of this problem is that the College will have to ask for special bridge funds from the chancellor for the first time, this is a little inaccurate since the College has been living off of temporary bridge funds for at least two years.

What we need is a permanent solution to fund the people and the courses dedicated to undergraduate instruction. Concerned students, faculty and parents should put pressure on school officials to make undergraduate education a priority, especially now that fees are rising at an incredible rate. Students must not be asked to pay more for less, and the quality of undergraduate instruction should not be lowered.

Samuels is a lecturer in the writing programs and president of University Council ““ American Federation of Teachers.

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