Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.
Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

The University of California (UC) Regents will vote Nov. 18 on whether or not to increase undergraduate educational fees by a total of 32 percent, or approximately $2,500, starting next school year. By raising fees, regents and the University Office of the President (UCOP) plan to make up for a loss of state funds.

For UC Santa Cruz students, this partly means paying more to support other UC institutions.

In a student media press conference held on Nov. 2, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal told student representatives that “the last … six fee increases have generally not gone back to the campus where they’ve been collected.”

Educational fees, or base fees, are priced the same across the UC campuses by the UCOP.

Once collected, one-third of all educational fees are set aside for financial aid and the other two-thirds are used to support the operating budgets of each university. In the end, UCSC only gets back 82 percent of the income that it generates.

The remaining 18 percent is allocated to other UC campuses. The decision on where to allocate that money is made by the UCOP is based on actual enrollment levels.

“I don’t like the idea that students at UC Santa Cruz, by paying increased fees, are in fact supporting other institutions,” Blumenthal said.

Before 2007, only 67 percent of educational fees paid by UCSC undergraduates came back to the university.

That 67 percent increased to 82 percent after Blumenthal became an acting chancellor and was able to negotiate with the UC president.

If regents pass the fee hike next week, UCSC students will pay an estimated total of $10,280 annually in education and campus registration fees. After the funds are distributed, UCSC will lose approximately $1,850 per student, as opposed to the $1,400 lost now.

Out of the 10 schools within the UC system, three receive more money than they generate in educational fees. They are UC Davis, UCLA, and UCSF. Davis and UCLA receive approximately 105 percent and 110 percent respectively, while UCSF ends up with a 459 percent return.

UCSF is renowned for its medical facilities. The university’s medical school is ranked fifth in the nation and its hospital is ranked seventh, according to a 2009 US News and World Report publication. UCD and UCLA also have extensive research programs that are said to require the extra money.

One of the issues surrounding the idea of returning 100 percent of educational fees back to the UCs is that UCSF would no longer have the necessary funding to continue their high caliber research and care. President Yudof echoed this in an October press conference.

“On the one hand, grad and professional education is more expensive, so that’s a reason to claim more [fees],” Yudof said.

Chancellor Blumenthal disagrees, and has championed the idea that the UCs should get back all that they put in the pot.

“They can support themselves,” Blumenthal said. “UCSF gets … far more grant money than we do. They have hospitals, larger infrastructure and many of their faculty gets a significant fraction of their salary from clinical income. They have alternatives that we don’t have. We’re kind of wstuck with … state income.”

A budget process overview by UCSF published during the 2008-09 year said that even in these tough economic times it is important to remain a competitive institution with money to spend.

“Fee increases imposed by the UCOP have made it more cost-effective for many UCSF researchers to hire postdocs in lieu of graduate research assistants,” the overview said.

Both Yudof and Blumenthal agree that the model for how campuses are funded needs to be re-examined.

“It would go a lot better if we have more money,” Yudof said, “but we’re going to look at the formulas.”


For corresponding audio, tune into “On What Grounds?” next Thursday from 7:30 to 8 p.m. on KZSC 88.1 FM