University of California System Maintains Tuition Cost this Year, but Are They In for Another Big Increase?


Despite the passing of Proposition 30 in the 2012 elections, the University of California (UC) systems still face budgeting challenges according to a former administrator.

Robert Birgeneau, the former chancellor of UC Berkeley, told the Huffington Post he did not think the bill solved UC's long term budget issue. He said the school system cannot expect state funding to be what it was in past decades.

"The reality is that the current budget is not stable in the long run and so the challenges are not over," Birgeneau said.

Proposition 30 raised California's income and sales tax in order for the Legislature to hold steady UC tuition costs for the 2013-2014 school year. The former Berkeley chancellor from 2004 to spring 2013 said the system should start looking for outside sources of revenue and ramp up its private fundraising immediately.

During Birgeneau's tenure, tuition costs nearly doubled and, between 2008 and 2012, UC's state funding fell by about 27 percent, or $900 million. Combined with the tuition increase, the school compensated with salary cuts throughout the entire system.

"We spent an incredible amount of time - the senior leadership team and I - trying to figure out within the realities of the budget how we could stay committed to Berkeley's historical values," Birgeneau said.

He said such values included research programs, low-income student support and other endeavors. The large tuition increase led to protests from students, which resulted in some campus police causing injuries.

Birgeneau said he must have experienced about 100 protests, but not all were due to tuition hikes and, in some cases, he agreed with the demonstrators. His successor, Nicholas Dirks, has had a fairly smooth ride thus far, but that is likely to change.

"Protests are part of the culture at Berkeley," Birgeneau said, noting the state funds are not likely to cover staff salaries. "Those increases have to come from somewhere, and one of the sources is going to have to be increases in tuition."

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