(01-19) 18:16 PST SAN DIEGO — The University of California will shut out tens of thousands of qualified students over the next decade as deep budget cuts force the nation’s premier public university to become more exclusive, UC President Mark Yudof told the regents Wednesday in San Diego.
UC is staring at a budget gap of at least $1 billion next year, half of which is expected to come from reduced state funding for 2011-12. The rest, Yudof said, will be from unavoidable expenses: higher negotiated salaries, rising energy costs, millions in pension contributions and more.
After three years of deep cuts, Yudof said, something dramatic will have to give.
“The moment is fast approaching when the university will no longer be able to guarantee admission to all California applicants who meet the eligibility criteria,” the central tenet of the state’s 50-year-old Master Plan for Higher Education, Yudof said.
It will be “a bleak milestone, not just for the university, but for all of California,” he said.
Yudof estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 qualified students will be turned away because UC won’t have the money to educate them.
The regents learned that if California’s budget crisis forces state lawmakers to reduce UC’s budget by at least $500 million for 2011-12, as expected, its public funding will drop to what it was in the late 1990s – except that UC now enrolls at least 73,000 more students, has a new campus in Merced and offers far more doctoral and other programs than it did a dozen years ago.
Besides turning away students, UC is likely to lay off more employees next year, offer fewer courses, reduce financial aid and enroll more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition than in-state students, said Yudof, who will propose specific cuts in March after hearing from each campus’ chancellor.
“I feel like a passenger on the Titanic being told by the captain how long it’ll take before the boat sinks,” lamented Regent Rex Hime, who suggested pushing Congress to tax Internet sales so the money could be set aside for higher education.
Regent Sherry Lansing agreed that identifying new funding sources is crucial.
Although UC’s total budget is a hefty $21 billion, about 70 percent is unavailable for UC’s “core” education mission because it comes from medical centers, research grants and other restricted sources.
Less than $3 billion comes from the state and, for the first time next year, UC expects to take in more from tuition than from tax dollars.
Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom – now lieutenant governor and a regent – suggested asking faculty, staff and students for ideas on how to raise money other than increasing tuition.
The regents have raised tuition nearly every year since 2002, more than tripling it since then to $11,124 for fall 2011.
“We will not stand for another round of fee increases,” Claudia Magaña, president of the UC Student Association, told the regents.
The regents declared UC’s declining fortunes “scary,” “tragic” and “disappointing.”
‘Save uc fund’
But it was Regent George Marcus who interrupted the litany of woe.
“We’re really great at talking, but it’s about time we acted!” he announced, his voice rising with excitement. “I’m going to kick off the ‘Save UC Fund’ right now!”
Whereupon he offered $100,000. “Let’s do it! Let’s get a campaign going! I’m serious!” Marcus said.
He proposed that UC ask its 1.3 million alumni to contribute $1,000 apiece, to raise more than $1 billion.
Tapping alumni for help is a good idea, said Regent Richard Blum, because “you can talk to Sacramento until you’re blue in the face” without getting more money.
Even so, Regents Russ Gould and Monica Lozano vowed a “dogfight” in Sacramento against the $500 million hit.
In a bit of ironic timing, the regents also agreed that each campus should use a more expensive method of evaluating applicants.
They voted to expand the use of “holistic review,” now employed at UC Berkeley and UCLA. Many top-tier universities also use it to examine a range of student achievements and then assign a score to each applicant.
But extensive training is required for application readers, and the method costs more than the current system.
Yudof said expanding holistic review was “appropriate for UC” because of its diverse range of applicants.
E-mail Nanette Asimov at email@example.com.