Just as many students (and their parents) are anxiously awaiting acceptance packages from colleges, the president of the University of California appears to be threatening to keep at least a few deserving applicants out of our state’s most prestigious public universities.
Janet Napolitano told an Assembly budget subcommittee Tuesday that unless the state increases funding beyond the 4 percent Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed for next year, the university will be forced to cap in-state admissions at last year’s levels and add 2,000 new slots for out-of-state students. That’s on top of a planned 5 percent tuition increase already announced.
It’s also in open defiance of Brown, whose proposed increase in UC funding was based on having no increase in out-of-state enrollment.
Why are they arguing over out-of-state students, who already make up about 20percent of UC admissions overall and 30percent at UC Berkeley and UCLA? One reason is that non-residents pay a premium of about $23,000 per year to attend a UC, and that helps subsidize the tuition and financial aid for in-state students. Letting more into the UC is one of the few ways the university can make up for the long slide in state funding – which has continued despite the priority most Californians put on higher education.
Many parents now fear an out-of-state student will get their child’s slot on a UC campus. Taxpayers won’t like that.
Napolitano is wrong to make bargaining chips out of students.
If Brown believes there are any silver bullets – three-year degrees or increased online classes – capable of making up the budget shortfall, he’s wrong.
Brown is a consummate politician. Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, is almost as skilled. Surely there’s a compromise in this latest smackdown between two incredibly hard-nosed politicians.
First, we are convinced the governor can find some extra money for higher education in a $164 billion state budget. Second, Napolitano could – and should – be able to find substantial savings we are convinced exist by initiating a thorough and clear-eyed review of the UC system’s management.
Rethinking various support systems – from campus health care to marketing to the UC’s unnecessary role in approving high school curriculum – could yield significant savings. Beyond that, systems that aren’t working to students’ satisfaction (and there are several) could be put on the road to recovery.
If Napolitano makes a sincere effort, perhaps Brown could be convinced to put his considerable political capital behind a drive for excellence.
If they can’t, both will be responsible for dashing the long-held dream of a UC education for thousands of students just graduating from high school or ready to transfer from a community college. If those dreams die, don’t ask those students – or their parents – to support a university system that disappointed them. And most will blame Napolitano.
Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen speaks for many in saying: “UC needs to knock off the cheap negotiating tactics ... It is not helpful for UC to act like a stubborn bully during this process.”
Added Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego: “UC’s job is to educate California students, not wait-list them.”
That’s true, but it’s also the UC’s job is to educate them well. We can do both.