The University of California (UC) Regents have approved a whopping 28% increase in tuition over the next five years, if the state doesn’t give the system more funding. Many members of the California legislature and Governor Brown are understandably against this proposal. Governor Brown has already offered an increase of 4% in state funding each year for the next two years in exchange for a freeze on tuition.

Additionally, the Governor is demanding more efficiency from the UC system including offering more online courses and slots for transfers from community colleges. Our Governor should be applauded for his participation in the Regents meeting.

Richard Blum, one of the Regents and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, stated that “paying higher salaries to faculty and executives was essential to maintaining quality.”

Governor Brown chided Blum saying “I want to point out that you run an investment banking industry and this is a public university.” “This is not Wall Street. This is the University of California. The public university has as its mission public service.” Amen and kudos to Governor Brown. Let us remember this comment when we are asked to re-elect Dianne Fienstein.

George Skelton writing in the Los Angeles Times gave this tuition hike proposal “a failing grade.” Skelton goes to point out that the UC Regents gave pay hikes of up to 20% to leaders of many of its campuses, who already make $383,000 to $485,000 per year. Further, Skelton also pointed out in a startling statistical comparison that the UC President makes $570,000 annually, while the California Governor makes $177,466 and the United States President $400,000!

The increase in fees would raise in-state undergraduate fees, now $12,192 to almost $12,792 in 2015 and 5% annually every year up to $15,560 in 2019.

The UC system was established by the Organic Act signed into law by then Governor Henry H. Haight in 1868, and remains today, with its 10 campuses, a bastion of academic and research excellence. It is the only university system that boasts of more than 38 Nobel Laureates on its faculty. It is regrettable that Janet Napolitano and some of the Regents are reversing decades of planning and forethought. There was a time when ordinary middle class students could afford to attend a UC college and progress with their dreams. It is indefensible that Chancellors and administrators, not faculty, are given these raises, and then to demand even more from cash strapped hard working parents of students.

The UC system has been denying admission to California residents in order to take in out of state students to raise revenue—UCLA admitted only 59% of California residents as students in 2012.

As the Mercury News reported, “‘Students are caught in the middle of it.’ said Melvin Singh, a student leader at UC Santa Barbara.

Further, a law passed last year required the UC system to report on their spend on undergraduates, graduates and research, by discipline. The UC system missed the reporting deadline on this and is stonewalling efforts to show such transparency.

Janet Napolitano and the Regents need to understand that the primary goal of the UC system is to ensure that California students have a shot at affordable higher education, given that our tax dollars already subsidize them. Paying highly paid administrators and Chancellors a hike in salary, and challenging the Legislature for more state funds, while wanting to sock students and parents even more does not seem right at all.

Rameysh Ramdas, an S.F. Bay Area professional, writes as a hobby

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