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UCLA Academic Senate opposes rebenching proposal

Student weights used to determine state funding under rebenching

non-resident undergraduate students

resident undergraduate students, graduate professional, academic master's, post-baccalaureate

doctoral students

graduate health sciences students

health sciences academic doctoral students

SOURCE: UC Office of the President

By Alexia Boyarsky

Dec. 10, 2012 12:36 a.m.

UCLA administrators and faculty spoke out against University of California”˜s new model for allocating state funds to campuses, in a UCLA Academic Senate statement released last week.

The response states that the Senate is “adamantly opposed” to the current proposal ““ known as rebenching ““ and outlines the potentially negative impacts it could have on the UCLA campus.

Academic Senates from all UC campuses compiled responses to the plan last week. Representatives from the Academic Senates will meet with the UC-wide Academic Council on Wednesday to further discuss how the plan should be implemented going forward.

Rebenching aims to equalize funding per student across all of the UC campuses by distributing state funds to each campus based on set student enrollment targets.

The goal of rebenching is to increase state funds that are allocated to each UC student up to UCLA’s level of funding over the next six years. Prior to rebenching, UCLA received the highest amount of state money per student, at $6,413.

The overall goal of rebenching was approved by UC President Mark Yudof in June, and a portion of state funds began to be used for rebenching in July. The UC Committee on Planning and Budget is currently working on a plan for further implementation of rebenching.

Prior to rebenching, state funds were allocated based on a complicated algorithm, which proponents of rebenching say results in an unfair and confusing system.

Representatives of the UCLA Academic Senate, however, argue that the proposed model for rebenching does not adequately account for the costs of running a large health sciences center, such as the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

“We understand the logic of (rebenching) but when it comes down to the details it’s hard to be fair,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in an interview with the Daily Bruin editorial board.

“It works against campuses with medical centers.”

Under the new system, the University plans to allocate state funds based on student enrollment, with different weights for different types of students ““ such as undergraduates and graduate health sciences students.

The system does not take into account the costs of running the university, for example maintaining labs in the health sciences or the hospital system, according to UCLA’s response.

UC San Francisco has been left out of the current rebenching plan in part because it has a large graduate health sciences program and no undergraduate students.

UCLA representatives argue that funding for the health sciences should similarly be left out of the rebenching model and instead be allocated based on a different formula that takes infrastructure into account.

This would also impact the funding given to universities with large health care systems, such as UC Berkeley and Davis.

“We do support having a fair and accurate transparent approach, we just think that in this particular strategy the formula is flawed,” said Linda Sarna, chair of the UCLA Academic Senate.

Another concern raised in the response is that all undergraduate students are given the same weight in the proposal, not accounting for the different costs that may be associated with different majors.

The cost of educating an engineering student may be different than the costs of educating a history student, said Troy Carter, chair of the Academic Senate’s Undergraduate Council and a physics professor at UCLA.

He said different fields of study, such as music or theater, also need different facilities and instruments, which should factor into the funding a school receives.

“The current formula is too simplistic,” Carter said.

“If we want to apply such a formula, you really need to perform a study about the cost of different majors.”

While the current rebenching plan is only using “new money” ““ state funds that are supplemental to the regular UC budget ““ the report argues that all of this money should in fact be going to replace state funds that have been cut from the system over the last decade.

Since 2007, the UC has lost about $1 billion in state funds, according to the report. The report states that any money that the state adds to the UC budget in the future should be redistributed to all of the campuses to help make up for that funding gap.

“All of the (UC) campuses are underfunded in a way, but some of the campuses have other resources they can draw on,” said Michael Meranze, chair of the UCLA Academic Senate’s Faculty Executive Committee and a UCLA history professor.

“Currently, students are paying the price of that underfunding, and it’s not fair to (them).”

One-sixth of the new money that the UC received last year has already been redistributed to the most underfunded campuses including UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara, and a larger portion of the extra state funds will be used for rebenching during the next five years, said Jean-Bernard Minster, the chair of the UC Planning and Budget Committee.

Concerns about the proposal brought up from the different campuses will be discussed at the upcoming Academic Council meeting, Minster said.

He said it is difficult to speak about UCLA’s specific concerns before having the full statement presented at the meeting. Even as rebenching continues to be implemented, UCLA representatives said they will work with the UC to create a system that will not harm the campus.

“Moving forward, we need to be very cautious as we pointed out in the report,” Sarna said. “We don’t want to level down UCLA ““ we want all the campuses to level up.”

Email Alexia at [email protected]

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