The UC Board of Regents voted today (Thursday, Nov. 20) to authorize systemwide tuition increases of up to 5 percent per year through 2019-20, an amount President Janet Napolitano said could be reduced or eliminated entirely if the state provides sufficient revenue.
A day earlier, the Long-Range Financial Plan Committee approved the proposal on a 7-2 vote, with Gov. Jerry Brown and student regent Sadia Saifuddin voting against it. Noting the system receives about $460 million less today than it did before the recession, Napolitano said state support for UC students remains near the lowest it has been in more than 30 years.
The vote by the full board was 14-7 to approve the plan, which Napolitano said “brings clarity to the tuition and financial-aid process for our students and their families.”
In a statement, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks voiced his full support for the new plan, calling it “a necessary response to the massive state disinvestment in the University of California.”
The plan, Dirks said, “balances a much-needed though moderate increase in tuition with an equally necessary degree of predictability and stability for students and their families.”
He added that the “recent outcry against any tuition increases has obscured key elements of the university’s financial reality, as well as the extent to which low-income students will be impacted by the increase in tuition.”
Specifically, Dirks noted that “Californian students from families with annual incomes under $80,000 will continue to have tuition and fees fully covered by financial aid, and the vast majority of California students from families earning less than $150,000 a year will see no increase.”
And, citing studies by the independent Public Policy Institute of California, the chancellor said institutional expenditures systemwide — including salaries and benefits — “have not gone up significantly, while tuition increases have been driven solely by dramatic reductions in state subsidies.”
“I want to assure the Berkeley campus community that I remain an unyielding advocate for our excellence and for continued access to our university for students from across the socioeconomic spectrum,” said Dirks. He vowed to “continue to do what is necessary to remain a beacon of excellence among universities, whether private or public, for the education we offer, the research we conduct and the service that we provide.”
In arguing for what she called a “long-term stability” proposal, Napolitano said the plan would help students, families and the UC system by helping to end the annual “feast or famine” budget cycle in which tuition rises and falls — sometimes dramatically — in relation to state funding.
Meanwhile, Berkeley students have been protesting the hikes at Wheeler Hall since Wednesday, with some 60 remaining overnight in the building’s lobby. As the regents prepared to take a final vote on the tuition proposal Thursday morning, as many as 75 students lingered there, watching the live stream of the board meeting on a computer and making banners for a rally planned for 2 p.m. today.
All classes have gone on as scheduled, with no interference from protesters. As is routine, the Berkeley administration has convened the campus Protest Response Team, which has asked Student Affairs to open and sustain a line of communication with the students.