A group tasked with finding ways to maintain and improve the quality of the University of California system, despite the state's fiscal crisis and waning financial support for education, issued a preliminary set of recommendations today.
The University of California Commission on the Future released a 150-page report outlining recommendations in five sub areas: size and shape of UC, education and curriculum, access and affordability, funding strategies, and research strategies.
State funding for the university system has declined by 54 percent during the past 19 years, and the school is facing a $1 billion funding gap over the next year.
"Without a renewed financial commitment from the state, the university must make hard choices about our programs and services," the report authors said.
Recommendations included improving system efficiency to help students graduate in three or four years; improve online education; expand part-time programs; establish financial aid eligibility for undocumented students; establish fixed rates for fee increases to avoid catching students off guard; improve administrative practices; and develop a grassroots advocacy campaign to foster political support for increased state funding.
Committee members emphasized that the UC system is a public good, so taxpayers should largely cover the costs instead of forcing students to take on all the expenses.
"UC educates outstanding future citizens and employees," the report's authors wrote. "(It) generates new ideas, innovations, and inventions that create new businesses and that nourish existing ones. (It) assists in improving operations and service delivery for government and non-profit institutions."
Committee members met for several hours today to discuss the initial report.
Interim vice president Nathan Brostrom gave a fiscal overview of the university and said UC is on track to have students contributing more money than the government for the first time.
The committee is co-chaired by UC Regents Chair Russell Gould and President Mark Yudoff, and members include regents, faculty, students, alumni, administration, staff and independent experts.
It was convened last July and will hold a public forum on May 7.
The recommendations will then undergo a formal review process before being amended and officially presented to the Regents in July.