Cutting Education and the Future of the UC

“Rejection. The exclusivity of any university is judged primarily by the amount of students it rejects.”

If this quote sounds familiar, you have probably watched the movie “Accepted” at least once. This line, uttered by the dean of the “better” fictional school, Harman University, may be what students are facing today in real life.

In the wake of the recent budget crisis, Jerry Brown has decided to cut $1.4 billion from universities and community colleges, $500 million dollars of that coming from the UC budget. According to Brown, as reprinted by the LA Times, “We will work with the administration and the Legislature to minimize, as much as possible, impact to students. However, the reality is that we will not be able to admit as many students as we had been planning for this fall.”

The extreme budget cuts that are expected to take effect in the upcoming academic years won’t only affect students currently in the UC, CSU and community college systems; they will also affect students trying to enter into them.

The UC board has two options: either increase tuition or cut back on the number of students they admit. They will probably opt to do a mix of both, and hopefully the majority of it will lead toward less students being accepted.

As a current student who does not want the tuition to be much impacted by the budget cuts, it may be simple to desire fewer students to be accepted, but we must also consider the consequences of this desire.

This domino effect would lead to fewer students attending colleges altogether. With one piece of legislation, the largest and cheapest public higher education system would become more overcrowded and much more expensive than it already is.

But there is more backlash from the reduced admission rate. With fewer students attending and aspiring for a higher degree after college, less students will be able to keep up with the higher demands of the workforce when it comes to choosing future careers.

For years, students have been told that the best way to get ahead is with a college degree – which is often supported by the fact that college graduates make about $30,000 more a year than non-graduates on average. With fewer students able to afford a college degree, many students will no longer be able to have this key component of “success.”

According to a joint statement by leaders of the UC, CSU and California community colleges, “The road to recovery from this recession and prosperity far beyond it runs straight through our many campuses. These universities are the economic engines of California.”

And then there is the effect it will have on our society as a whole. Our generation is spending more and more time in front of television and computer screens, and less and less time studying. Now, with fewer students able to attend schools that can provide them with a higher level of education, the entire generation could be affected. In this economically difficult time, students are finding it more necessary to have a college degree, however difficult they are becoming to attain.

The only way to get ourselves out of this economic crisis is with more people working and spending money. But, if fewer people are able to get high paying jobs and spend freely, then our state could take an even worse economic turn. Likewise, due to the higher tuition prices, more students will be graduating in greater debt, and the competition for jobs is already too great.

A pessimist will probably say that fewer students would mean a higher tuition cost and an intellectual degradation of our society due to fewer students getting degrees. However, as an optimist, I can only hope that having fewer students in the system getting degrees will mean less competition for jobs.

Sara Naor is a first-year film and media studies major. She can be reached at snaor@uci.edu.