The University of California Board of Regents met at UCLA on Nov. 18 and voted 13 to one in favor of student fee increases in the state budget proposal for the 2005-2006 school year.
As of now, the budget proposal includes an 8 percent increase of $457 per year for undergraduate residents, which increases the mandatory systemwide tuition fees to $6,141. There will also be a 10 percent increase of $628 for graduate residents, which totals to $6,897.
Although there was no fee increase for nonresident graduate students, there is a 5 percent increase of $828 for nonresident undergraduates per year.
These fee increases were not unexpected, but are the result of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Higher Education Compact, a plan requiring state universities to use additional student fees to meet current fiscal needs of the state, with a guarantee from the state to provide more funding for the UC to cover enrollment growth and to increase faculty salaries.
In the 2006-2007 academic year, undergraduate fees will increase another 8 percent and graduate fees will increase another 10 percent.
The Regents’ decision to increase tuition was made to offset the decrease in UC funding. In the last four years, state funding for the UC has fallen a total of 15 percent, while student enrollment has increased by 19 percent.
The fee increases for 2005-2006 will hopefully help alleviate some of the strain.
For example, in the last two years, UC employees have not received any increases in salary, making faculty salaries 8 to 10 percent lower than other competing public and private research institutions. The 2005-2006 budget hopes to assist with employee salaries by providing a three percent increase.
Furthermore, the UC has not received any extra funding for maintenance of new buildings and areas in the last two years. However, the 2005-2006 budget allots $16 million for these efforts.
The proposed state budget also allows for funding 5,000 full-time students, which the UC expects will provide a place for each UC-eligible freshman applicant. The 1,000 students that will comprise the first class at UC Merced will be part of those 5,000 students.
In a news release from Today at UCI, UC President Robert Dynes expressed his hope that the UC will receive the funding needs to expand.
‘I believe the University of California is critical to keeping California competitive in the 21st century,’ Dynes said. ‘The university’s education, research and public service programs make a vital contribution to the economy, health and quality of life of California and for California to stay competitive in the global economy over the coming years, we need those contributions by the university to not only be sustained, but to expand.’
Jason Pham, a fourth-year criminology, law and society major, does not feel that the increase in fees reflects the quality of a UC education.
‘I think the education is a highly underrated privilege,’ Pham said. ‘I think the prices we pay now in California for the quality of education we receive from the UC system is a bargain, especially compared to other schools.’
Other students feel differently. Lina Lim, a third-year international studies major, is unhappy that fees are increasing.
‘I think they raised it enough this year and I’m still not seeing any improvements,’ Lim said. ‘I’m paying more, but there is never enough space in classes I want to enroll in.’