December 7, 2010
In order to weather significant reductions in state funding for higher education, the University of California must enroll more out-of-state students, increase its number of online classes, encourage students to graduate in three years and look for other ways to operate more efficiently, a panel recommended on Monday.
The UC Commission on the Future--a panel composed of professors, students, alumni and UC officials--released a final report on Monday outlining ideas that have been discussed for more than a year in response to statewide budget cuts, The Los Angeles Times reported.
In particular, the report says the 10-campus system should increase the percentage of non-California undergraduates from the current six percent to 10 percent in order to obtain the higher tuition those students pay. UC Berkeley and UCLA boast out-of-state enrollment rates at well above 10 percent, while the other eight campuses are attempting to attract nonresident freshmen to their programs. Some officials, however, are concerned that widening the floodgates to out-of-state students might disadvantage California residents within their own public school system.
"If the number of nonresidents becomes too large it would potentially displace California residents, and we have an obligation to residents of California," UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal told The Contra Costa Times. "The second consideration is money and nonresident students pay nonresident tuition which all goes to the campus where they are enrolled. That can represent a significant infusion of funds."
The commission also supported facilitating timely graduation by removing obstacles like required courses that may be overly burdensome. Furthermore, it advocated new programs that would push students to finish in three years by attending summer school and applying credits from advanced placement tests.
Notably, the main source of contention among panel members was whether UC should expand its online course offerings. Professors argued that increasing the number of online classes would compromise educational standards and make academic life too impersonal for students.
"Well into the future, there may be the possibility of an entirely online UC degree," Provost Lawrence Pitts told The Contra Costa Times.
The commission was created in July 2009 with the goal of developing "a vision for the future of the University that will reaffirm our role in sustaining California's economy...while recognizing that our limited state resources require us to be creative and strategic in meeting that mission," as stated in a July 16, 2009 letter written by UC Board of Regents Chair Russell Gould after formally establishing the panel, The Daily Californian reported.
However, Academic Senate Chair and UC Davis law professor Daniel Simmons said the report failed to delineate an overall strategy for the university as it faces daunting fiscal challenges.
"There's ideas for cutting costs, there's ideas for raising revenue and standing alone a lot of it is good," he said. "But it really doesn't overall provide a cohesive direction for (the UC)."
Compiled by Alexander Gong
"UC Commission on Future issues final report," latimes.com, December 7, 2010, Larry Gordon
"Panel says UC needs to adapt, recommends increasing online courses and nonresident students," contracostatimes.com, December 6, 2010, Matt Krupnick
"UC Commission on the Future Releases Final Report," dailycal.org, December 6, 2010, Jordan Bach-Lombardo