The University of California and student leaders are asking for additional funding from state legislators to prevent a future tuition hike.
The UC is requesting $105 million in funding to replace its proposed 2.5 percent tuition hike for the 2018-2019 academic year and pay for resources to accommodate larger class sizes following increases in enrollment for undergraduate and graduate students, University spokesperson Dianne Klein said in an email statement. The UC is asking for the $105 million in addition to the 3 percent increase in university funding Gov. Jerry Brown proposed Jan. 24.
“This investment will fund improvements to ensure student success and timely graduation: faculty hiring, academic counseling, student mental health services, graduate student support and classroom facilities,” Klein said.
UC Student Regent Paul Monge said he, UC Student Association President Judith Gutierrez and UC President Janet Napolitano met with state legislators Wednesday to address their questions on UC operations and explain the UC’s priorities.
Monge said UC and student leaders explained to legislators key components of the University’s formal requests for state funding and how additional funding would help students. He added student leaders support the requests.
“There hasn’t been the best relationship between legislature and UC leadership,” Monge said. “In spite of that, students play an important role in conveying the need for additional state funding – I think legislators might be more receptive to hearing from us and (to hearing) specific stories on why these resources are needed.”
Monge added student leaders plan to continue to partner with the UC by sending students to legislative hearings regarding the UC budget.
“We are going to make sure students are constantly attending these hearings, (that) students are worth the investment,” he said. “Our hope is also to be present at town halls legislators hold.”
The UC’s lobbying efforts follow a Feb. 16 report published by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office that suggested the state legislature reject additional funding for the UC’s Academic Excellence initiatives.
Klein said the University disagreed with the analysis and added $50 million for the initiative would be used to “prioritize investments such as lowering the student-faculty ratio, replacing outdated instructional equipment” and raising graduate students’ stipends.
Devon Graves, Student Regent-designate, said he thinks regents are doing everything they can to make sure they do not have to vote in support of a tuition increase. Graves said regents are looking at the UC Office of the President’s budgeting practices and ways to cut spending.
“The UC is taking steps to look at different ways to do their cost saving,” he said. “There are a lot of costs the state has pushed to the UC, (such as) bonds to build buildings and retirement (costs).”
Klein said the UC’s request takes into account the 1,500 new students the University will fund by reducing or eliminating other expenditures in its existing budget.
Graves added he thinks the state has no excuse to not fund the UC properly when it has a surplus of money. Last month, Brown projected California will have a $6.1 billion surplus for the next fiscal year.
“The extra money in the state budget should be invested into higher education,” he said. “The UC … should not have to be suffering to explain why higher education should be a priority for (state) funding.”