Can the players in the University of California financial crisis agree on the sort of bold reforms needed to save it from its fiscal crisis?
So far it doesn’t look like it. The University of California’s Commission on the Future released its first recommendations yesterday and one of the ex-officio commission members called them “admittedly bland.”
Here are some of the UC’s tepid recommendations:
- Encourage more students to graduate in three years.
- Create a pilot project to offer 30 to 40 classes online system-wide to help overcrowding.
- Pursue greater private fund-raising.
- Double the number of out-of-state students, who pay significantly higher tuition, from 7,600 to 15,200.
- Increase UC tuition from 5% to 15%, but adopt a multi-year fee schedule to help parents.
An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education observed that these sorts of changes, in light of the University of California’s desperate financial situation, are nickel-and-dime stuff. More substantial changes, such as making a serious push for online classes for undergrads or letting the campuses set their own tuition schedules, wasn’t touched. And here’s one I’d suggest: make professors teach more classes.
Key Challenge for the University of California….
The University of California is trying to resolve this crisis through a series of committees. Instead of a top-down approaches from the administration – which admittedly isn’t popular – all the parties in this fight are trying to protect their own turf.
Ideas to fundamentally alter how the system works have met many roadblocks, including divisions between faculty members and administrators and competing priorities among the system’s 10 campuses.
“The only thing that the university seems to be decisive about is making sure the commission is structured so nobody’s ox is going to get gored,” said Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
The University of California is going to have to change the way its educates its students and I’m sure the hard decisions it faces will be experienced by other state university systems in the future. The biggest hurdle would seem to be realizing that bold reform is necessary – now.
In the Chronicle article, here’s what Lawrence H Pitts, the system’s interim provost, had to say about the UC’s challenge:
In some respects the university’s storied history makes people resistant to tinker with the existing model, even as the foundations of the model that has sustained the university since the 1960s are taken away.
“It’s awfully easy to say, We’ve been good in the past; why would we change in the future?” A major challenge “is to get people to buy in that some kind of change is happening, whether we like it or not. With or without us, change is afoot. So how do you take into account that reality and shape the future of the university?”
Can all the players in the University of California financial crisis agree on the sort of bold reforms needed to save it from its fiscal crisis?
As someone who lives in California and who is married to a proud UC Berkeley grad, I wish the prospects more encouraging.