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Academic Senate supports renaming ‘fees’ to ‘tuition’

By Flavia Casas

Oct. 26, 2010 1:57 a.m.

Correction: The original version of this article published on Oct. 26 contained an error. The UCLA Academic Senate Executive Board did not unanimously support renaming student “fees” to “tuition.” On representative voted against the change.

The UCLA Academic Senate and its Executive Board made a nearly unanimous decision on Friday to support the renaming of UC educational “fees” to “tuition.”

“It’s really just changing the name,” said Daniel Simmons, chair of the UC-wide Academic Council. “It’s a recognition that students are being called upon to pay for the cost of their own instruction rather than having it fully funded by the state.”

The proposal was generated within the UC Commission on the Future about a year ago, after the Department of Veterans Affairs began asking whether VA benefits could be covered by the university’s “educational fees,” Simmons said.

At last week’s UCLA Academic Senate meeting, the Graduate and Undergraduate Councils also raised concerns about students not receiving financial assistance as a result of the university’s wording, according to UCLA Academic Senate chair Ann Karagozian in an Oct. 20 letter. The letter, which was sent to Simmons, summarized UCLA’s opinion on the matter.

The UC’s 1960 master plan provided for fees to cover the costs of all student services besides the cost of instruction, Simmons said. As a public institution, the UC is not supposed to charge educational services to students.

Instead, educational “fees” that accounted for instructional costs were introduced in 1994. Yet by definition, costs associated with student services are referred to as fees, while those correlated with instruction are labeled as tuition.

Many UCLA Academic Senate committees brought up this issue when backing up their decision, Karagozian wrote in the letter to Simmons.

But some student groups and leaders believe the name change carries fundamental implications, said Jesse Cheng, the student regent.

“The issue a lot of students I talk to have with the word tuition is it implies that these fees are going to be permanent when our education is supposed to be free,” Cheng said.

Although the UCLA Academic Senate has decided to support the name change, it has not pushed student concerns aside.

In the letter sent to Simmons, Karagozian said the Senate would endorse the switch under the condition that the student advisory boards, which provide oversight and consultation on student fee issues, can continue consulting with the chancellors, the president and other administrators on the subject, regardless of the university’s decision to use the term “fees” or “tuition.”

Whether the proposal passes will be a decision left in the hands of the UC Board of Regents. After all 10 campuses review the proposal, the Systemwide Academic Senate, provost and president will provide their input before it is presented to the regents, Karagozian said.

Although the regents are not required to take campus decisions or student opinions into consideration when making their final decision, Cheng said he strongly encourages students to throw in their 2 cents.

“I think students really do have vivid opinions about this subject, and it’d be good for them to voice it in public,” Cheng said. “Even if you didn’t directly create change that day, you at least planted the seed that needs to be had with the UC system.”

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