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News in Brief

Higher Education Coalition Announces Plan for Tuition-Free Education

The Reclaim California Higher Education Coalition announced their plans to make all California college education tuition-free at a press conference in Berkeley on Jan. 24.

The coalition, made up of students, faculty and academics aims to support California schools and students by cutting tuition. The report was prepared by UC Santa Barbara professor Christopher Newfield, DeAnza College professor Richard Hansen, founder of Onbeyond LLC Jonathan Polansky, Executive Director of the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA), Director of the coalition Amy Hines-Shaikh and CUCFA President Stanton A. Glantz.

The 30-page document, titled “The $48 Fix: California’s Master Plan for Higher Education,” detailed how California can provide tuition-free schooling using its own resources. According to the report, the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, drawn up by former California Governor Pat Brown and lawmakers, was highly successful.

“The 1960 Master Plan treated education as a public good, provided at low-cost or no-cost to all California students, yielding a wider social and economic benefit. But since 2000, higher education has been treated as a commodity to be sold to consumers for their private gain.”

As a result of this privatization, tuition and fees have risen 150 percent in UC schools, 170 percent in CSU schools and more than tripled at community colleges. In 2015, more than half of the UC and CSU graduating class left with student debt. In addition, classes are impacted, making it more difficult for schools to accept qualified students.

The report notes that executing the new plan is expected to cost $9.43 billion, but its authors argue that this cost is entirely feasible with the implementation of an annual income-tax surcharge of $48 per year for median-income families and $7,100 per year for households in the top 5 percent.

UC Regents Approve UCI Nursing School

The UC Board of Regents approved plans last Wednesday, Jan. 26 to establish a nursing school at UC Irvine.

Funding for the new school was made possible by a $40 million donation from the William & Sue Gross Family Foundation given last year. The largest gift in UCI history, it will increase classroom and research space in a new state-of-the-art building.

Student enrollment in the nursing school is expected to double from 200 to 400 students over the next decade.

UCI Gets New Electric Buses

UCI announced last week that it will be acquiring 20 new electric buses for the Anteater Express from Chinese automobile manufacturer BYD. The school will be the first in the nation to have an all-electric bus fleet.

The $15 million cost will be covered by a $40 fee increase per student, per quarter. The University of California has previously pledged to emit net-zero greenhouse gases by 2025. According to UCI administration, utilizing these electric buses is a step in that direction.

Governor Brown to Undergo Cancer Treatment

The Office of the Governor announced Saturday morning that Governor Jerry Brown is scheduled to receive prostate cancer treatment.

Governor Brown’s oncologist, Dr. Eric Small stated that his condition “can be readily treated with a short course of radiotherapy” with no expected significant side effects.

Treatment is scheduled between late February and early March 2017. Governor Brown will continue to work full-time up to and during his treatment.