Regents Approve Fee Increases for Selected Professional School Students

Responding to the continuing need to address quality control in the University of California's professional schools, UC Regents approved on July 21 additional fee increases for professional school students beginning in the winter quarter/spring semester of the 2005-06 year. The 12-to-6 vote followed extensive discussion and debate by the Regents, some of whom wanted to delay the decision until the University prepares a long-term policy on fees for professional school students. Such a long-term fee policy would give students and their families as well as the University a predictable and sustainable plan rather than making incremental increases. Some Regents warned that the rapid rise in fees at UC professional schools is resulting in privatization of the public university system. Another Regent warned that the students who experience the consecutive fee hikes will be less likely to give to the University as alumni. But UC President Robert C. Dynes, some chancellors and deans argued that the money is needed to invest in faculty recruitment, facility upgrades and other efforts to maintain competitiveness and quality of education. "We can, in the short-term find other sources of money, not permanent money," Dynes told the Regents. "But if you look over the long term, there has been a continual erosion of quality of education that is being delivered at many of our professional schools at UC." When UC chancellors and deans were asked about the fees, some of them said that they need more revenues to offset the declining state support for professional schools. The Regents first approved supplemental increases in several professional school fees for 2005-06 by amounts up to an additional 7 percent. When combined with the 3 percent increase approved in November, these additional increases will produce a maximum total increase of 10 percent in selected professional school fees. However, only two-thirds of the proposed increases, up to a maximum of 7.7 percent over 2004-05 levels, will be implemented in 2005-06 beginning in the winter quarter/spring semester, with full implementation of the total 10 percent increases deferred until the 2006-07 academic year. At UCSF, the total increases for 2005-06 are $224 for nursing, $391 for medicine, $760 for pharmacy and $1,083 for dental students. Fees in a number of UC professional programs, including medical schools, were not increased further. The amounts of the increases vary by school, campus and residency status, depending on the financial needs and market competitiveness factors of the individual professional school. For information on fee increases by campus and school, please visit (pdf). These increases are a reflection of the major impact state budget cuts have had on the University of California over the last several years. As a result of these cuts, UC has lost 15 percent of its state funding at a time when population-driven enrollments have increased 19 percent. Additionally, the 2004-05 state budget reduced professional school budgets by more than $42 million with the expectation that professional school fees would be increased to offset the cuts. However, fees could only be increased by $37 million, leaving a funding gap of $5 million. The result has been program cutbacks, erosion in the competitiveness of faculty and staff salaries, and substantial student fee increases for students without desirable levels of financial aid. "Preservation of academic quality and maintenance of sufficient financial aid remain major issues confronting many of the professional schools," said Dynes. "I recognize that professional students have been subjected to substantial fee increases in recent years, and we do not undertake these additional increases lightly. "They are, unfortunately, necessary to sustain the academic program and student financial aid in the wake of the serious budget cuts the university has been forced to take." Secondly, the Regents approved additional, temporary professional fee increases to address the revenue shortfall resulting from a court order associated with a lawsuit over prior professional fee increases. The Regents approved an educational fee increase for 2005-06 of $700 beginning in the winter quarter/spring semester 2006, with an additional increase of $350 for the 2006-07 year. This total increase, when fully implemented, of $1,050 would expire at the conclusion of the 2006-07 year. This $1,050 increase matches an increase already being paid by graduate academic students, but which previously had not been levied on most professional school students. The Regents also approved a surcharge of $60 in the educational fee to be assessed to all enrolled students, including undergraduate and graduate academic students, beginning in 2007-08 -- after the $1,050 professional increase has expired -- and lasting until the remaining costs associated with the court order are covered. The court order prohibited the University from increasing professional school fees above the 2003-04 level for students who first enrolled in professional school prior to December 2002. This lost revenue to UC will total about $20 million by the end of 2005-06. The approved educational fee increases will partially replace this lost revenue, which has further undermined the University's ability to preserve academic quality and provide sufficient financial aid to needy students. The actions approved July 21 were first taken up by regents in committee in May. A final board vote was deferred at that time to give more Regents the opportunity to consider the proposals and vote on them. The implementation dates of the increases were delayed to winter/spring 2006 to ensure that students receive adequate notice of the fee increases. In the case of both fee increases approved July 21, an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the new fee revenue will be set aside for financial aid. Source: Lisa Cisneros and the UC Office of the President

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