Talking Points on the UC Budget Crisis and Public Education

Many thanks to those who worked on these amazing talking points! Please check out the downloadable pdf bellow and distribute!

What’s happening with the UC budget? How did we get here?

  • The 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education gave all Californians the right to an affordable college education. In fact, in-state students’ fees were supposed to be only for “incidental costs,” not for tuition.1 High quality, accessible public education was once a major priority for California.
  • In 1978, CA Proposition 13 drastically reduced property taxes (a major source of funding for public education) and required a 2/3rds majority in the legislature to raise taxes again. 
  • In 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger and the UC administration signed the Higher Education Compact. Written during a time of economic prosperity, this document allowed UC to raise student fees by 10% each year and moved UC away from public funding by the state and toward private funding by individual and corporate donors.2 This shift from public to private funding is called privatization.
  • Why are so many people opposed to privatization? When UC is a public institution, it is accountable to the public — to tax payers and to the state. UC teaching, research and public service are considered a public good. If UC becomes a private institution, it will be accountable to private donors — to corporations and wealthy individuals. These donors will increasingly control the kinds of programs and scholarship UC can offer; our teaching and research will benefit corporate rather than public interests.
  • Today’s crisis — including over 900 layoffs, mandatory furloughs for faculty and staff, and a 32% increase in student fees — is not a sudden unexpected downturn, but part of a much longer trend of disinvestment in California public education, by both the state and the UC administration.
  • Undergraduate fees have increased over 117% since 2002. In 1988, fees for one undergraduate student represented 5% of the median family income for a California household. By 2008, fees represented 17% of the median family income.3 Recent reports demonstrate that since 2004 UC administration has pledged student fees for bond collateral and interest on construction projects.4

How are students being impacted by these decisions?

  • Students are being asked to pay thousands of dollars more in fees than they initially planned. Therefore, many students report that they will have to take on another job next year to cover the cost, reducing the time and energy that they can devote to their education. Claims that increased fees will be offset by increased financial aid opportunities actually just shift the burden from the university to individual students who must take on more debt, limiting their employment and graduate school opportunities or exposing students to predatory lending schemes similar to subprime housing loans. Many other students say they will not be able to afford to remain in the UC system. 
  • Students are paying more for less. Programs are being closed and instructors are being laid off. For example, The Dean the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences may cut the Textiles and Clothing program at UCD, the only of its kind in the UC. Students are fighting to keep it open.5 UC Davis also recently laid off all of its ESL lecturers in order to cut costs.6 As TAs become more expensive and the University cuts funds to hire instructors, we fully expect to see larger classes, larger and/or fewer discussion sections, and fewer course offerings, decreasing the educational value of UC Davis instruction and increasing the average time to degree. 
  • Crucial resources are becoming less accessible. Cowell Student Health Center, which serves UCD students, has had to cut hours of operation this year due to furloughs.7 The main UCD library has cut staff, reducing the number of librarians available and making it harder to get necessary research materials.8 Campus resource centers, which serve underrepresented and marginalized communities at UCD, have had to cut programming and hours to account for budget cuts this year. These are just a few examples of the ways student support and resources are dwindling on our campus. 

If the legislature is decreasing funding, why aren’t students just focusing on Sacramento?

  • We strongly advocate for public funding of public education, but we also demand that UC administration refocus spending on students and education and that they take responsibility for creating a public education system that the state would want to fund. 
  • Between 1997 and 2007, faculty increased by 24% and student enrollment increased by 39%, while senior management increased by 118%. A report by the UCLA Faculty Association estimates that UC would have $800 million each year if management had grown at the same rate as the rest of the university since 1997.9 $800 million would cover the fees for 100,000 resident undergraduates. UC Davis plans to close one of three low-income cooperative on-campus student housing projects, and plans to use that space to create more administrative offices. We want to know why administrative costs and resources continue to rise at the expense of student accessibility and affordability.
  • We think it is unacceptable that in a year when students must seriously consider whether or not they can continue to attend college, the president of the UC has a compensation package of $841,880,10 and the new chancellor of UC Davis is hired with a base salary of $400,000, which is 27% higher than that of her predecessor.11 
  • The UC Board of Regents consists of 18 members appointed by the governor for 12 year terms, one student regent appointed by the Board of Regents, and 7 non-voting (ex officio) members. Because of this structure, the Regents have no real accountability to students, faculty, or staff. And very few of the Regents even have a background in education.12 For example, Chairman Russell Gould is a former executive of Wachovia Bank, a corporation that directly profits from decreased funding of public education since it profits from an increase in student loans. We believe it is crucial to have accountability from the Regents, real student representation, and UC leaders with backgrounds in education.
  • Recent budget choices push resources away from students and education, and toward administrative and for-profit functions of the university. If UC administration continues to move toward a privatized, corporate model, it will be even harder to convince the state and tax payers to invest in the UC as a public education system. 

What can advocates for public education do to help?

  1. Contact UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi (530-752-2065, to ask that she publicly advocate for administrative transparency and a rollback of fee increases.
  2. Contact UC President Mark Yudof ( to demand accountability and transparency in administrative and budgetary decisions.
  3. Contact the UC Regents ( to demand that they revoke the fee increases and reverse the trend of privatization.
  4. Contact Governor Schwarzenegger (916-445-2841) and California legislators ( and ask them to make the Regents accountable to students and to the state, and to restore the state’s commitment to public education.


Downloadable PDF, please distribute!

UC Budget Talking Points




Filed under Campuses, Community Colleges, CSU Fresno, CSU Stanislaus, SF State University, Statements, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA

2 responses to “Talking Points on the UC Budget Crisis and Public Education

  1. Uc student

    Thank you to the people who organized and wrote this. It is very informative and highlights and defines some of the key issues that have been brought up recently regarding the budget cuts.

  2. Sarah McC

    Awesome job! I will be sharing with many!

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