Wednesday, May 11, 2011

At UC Davis: "You think you've found the bottom," but...

just some excerpts:
In California, class sizes are swelling while class offerings are shrinking. One community college district in San Diego has cut 90 percent of its summer courses. And in Washington, universities are increasing the enrollment of out-of-state students, who pay about three times as much as in-state students, while considering trimming resident enrollment.

Colleges and universities, which can levy revenue through tuition hikes, are a primary target for cuts when states are in a budget bind.

"This year is going to be the hardest year on record," said Dan Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, which has 420 member institutions. "Any new revenue at the state level is being gobbled up by Medicaid and K-12 education," he said, and much of the federal stimulus money expires this year, setting up the perfect storm for higher education.
At UC Davis, some lecture class capacities have doubled to 400 students. Science labs that had 12 students three years ago now have 20, and there are fewer sections of introductory foreign language courses because "we just don't have the money to offer them," said Bob Powell, a professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and chair of the Davis division of the Academic Senate.

Some faculty are entertaining lucrative job offers from private universities that pay 40 or 50 percent more than UC Davis, which hasn't provided across-the-board raises in four years, Powell said. "If that trickle turns into a river, we've got a big problem," he said.

The situation will only worsen under California Gov. Jerry Brown's budget for next year, which slashes funding to the California State University and University of California systems by $500 million each -- a decrease of 18 percent for CSU and 16 percent for the UC system. It also cuts $400 million from the state's expansive network of community colleges.

Worse yet, those cuts could double if an extension of temporary statewide tax increases isn't approved. After meeting with California college presidents in April, Brown vowed to mobilize support for the extension, telling reporters, "The university is an engine of wealth creation. Stripping it of its professors and its research in the way that an all-cuts budget would require is unacceptable."
An "all-cuts" budget would rely almost entirely on cuts to close the state's $26 billion deficit. The possibility of steeper reductions has Powell, the UC Davis professor, worried. "You think you've found the bottom," he said. "You're like, 'Finally, we can stabilize things,' and then it just turns into another quagmire."

read the full article here: Universities Slash Budgets Nationwide

--there is this response to the idea of tiered rates/differential tuition at UC:
Charging varying tuition would threaten UC's character -- but, unfortunately that piece did not give a full response to "the Birgeneau proposition".

and on the online ed front there is this editorial in NYT: Education Is the Last Thing on Their Minds

and, yet, there also is this story on the NYT (they seem to be taking a page from the Washington Post and its relationship to Kaplan U):
New York Times To Offer Online Accredited Courses

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