Notes from Commission on the Future of UC
November 12, 2009
Speaker: Mark Baldassare, PPIC
Long-term funding cuts in higher education works against the state because CA faces a “skills gap” coming in the next 15 years. There’s a growing gap between the needs of the economy and the number of college-educated Californians.
By 2025, California will be short 1 million college graduates; not enough to fill the demand for jobs. And the number of high school graduates will outnumber the jobs available to their skill level. The wage gap will worsen as the skills gap widens.
CA ranks 19th out of the 20 largest U.S. states in high school graduates who attend college.
PPIC Survey on public attitudes on higher education:
• Californians are increasingly concerned about the affordability of higher education.
• 70% of those polled said state cuts to higher education are a big problem—cuts are more of a problem than access to and quality of higher education.
• The three big concerns of the public regarding higher education are:
o Increasing tuition and fees
o Cuts to the number of classes
o Cuts to faculty and staff salaries
• 16% of those polled approve of the legislature’s handling of higher education
• 21% approve of the governor’s handling of higher education
• 75% feel that the state is headed in the wrong direction
• Majority of people support higher education and give UC/CSU and community colleges good ratings.
• 70% feel that higher education is important to California’s future.
Majority of people feel that the answer to the challenge of funding higher education is a combination of more accountability and efficiency along with increasing taxes to pay for higher education.
Speaker: Robert Reich, UC Berkeley professor
• A critical question about the role of higher education is the return on investment. In private universities, the return on investment goes to the individual; it’s a private gain.
• Public universities are different—public universities are public goods and use a public goods model:
o Excellence in research that is used to solve public problems
o Widespread access to higher ed and great diversity of students
o Education is a public good that benefits the state and individuals
• The challenge is that public goods make it hard to regain the investment because it becomes part of the public domain.
• The question for the Commission is how do we capture the benefits of a public good (higher education at UC) to finance UC? The following are some examples, but should not be taken as solutions:
o Business reaps enormous benefits and profits from UC in the form of research, technology, skilled workers, etc. Can we go to Sacramento and ask for a surcharge on all large businesses in California to finance higher education?
o Graduates of UC do well; can we let everyone in for free and then ask graduates to pay X% for Y# of years in order to finance students? That way graduates with higher salaries subsidize those who chose lower-paid, but often public service, professions.
o Intellectual property: We don’t want UC to become a subsidiary of private companies, but when intellectual property is spun out of UC research and benefits the private sector, can UC also reap those profits? How do we benefit from the public goods we produce that the private sector uses?
o Expand the utilization of UC. Why don’t we develop a cyber-campus that uses the University of Phoenix model but does not do it for profit?
o Research and Development is a classic public good that gets appropriated by corporations—how can UC benefit as welll?
There is fundamental difference between a public university and a private university. The difference is that at a public university the public benefit—the public good—is at the core of the mission; it’s not ancillary. That means that public universities have a different ethos, purpose, mission that shapes admissions, research, curriculum—every aspect of the school. This is a profound difference between public and private universities.
Speaker: Richard Atkinson, former UC President
Suggestions for the Commission:
• The idea of tiered campuses is inconsistent with the mission of UC. Excellence in research is critical for all campuses.
• Public lobbying of the state is critical
• Private fundraising
• Increase the number of out-of-state students—just 250 additional out-of-state students per campus brings in a substantial amount of money.
• Expand research partnerships with the private sector to fund UC research, buildings, etc. This also funds graduate student experience.
• Encourage all faculty, especially in the non-sciences, to search out research funding
• Establish high-fee part-time grad programs that would bring in money, similar to the University of Phoenix model. Faculty should be rewarded for their participation in these programs.
• Expand grad enrollment only in key programs
• Do not exempt academic programs and departments from cuts or from disestablishment.
• Work to increase community college transfers to UC.
• Teach lower division classes online to both UC and community college students—we need to better prepare students for transfer to UC
• Where do we want to be when CA recovers? We don’t’ want to be the University of Michigan or Virginia; we will be there in fees, but those schools are not a model for us. 1/3 of all students at the University of Michigan are from out-of-state, in contrast only 6% at UC are out-of-state.
• Test out different ideas at each of the 10 campuses:
o Limit constraints on what campuses can do
o Revenue generated by each campus should stay on that campus.
Report Back from Working Groups:
• 2 working groups have been finalized and met in the last week: Funding Strategies and the Size and Shape of UC.
• Co-chairs were already selected and can be viewed on the UC Futures website: http://ucfuture.universityofcalifornia.edu/membership.html
• Almost every Working Group co-chair asked for more time to meet and discuss the issues and recommendations. They said the Commission should extend the timeline to June or July 2010
• Russ Gould and Chris Edsly both recommended that the Commission keep it’s original timeline and stick to the March/April deadline.
• Professor Charles Schwartz
• Professor Glaser
• Catherine Linberger, AFSCME 3299 member
• Howard Fallon, UCOP staff
Public comment was largely critical of the Commission’s process, transparency and mission. Professor Glaser stated that many of the faculty were suspicious of the Working Group selection process that was opaque and secretive. Linberger recommended that UC sit down with unions to plan next steps. Fallon told UC to go to Sacramento and tell them to raise taxes to pay for higher education.