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Budget Troubles Point to More Tough Times in Higher Ed

UC's President Yudof (Photo via University of California)
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By Nick Wilson/Special to LAist

California’s Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) released a report yesterday with recommendations to address budget reductions for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for 2011-12 includes General Fund reductions of $500 million for the UC and CSU.

To achieve General Fund savings, the LAO recommends shifting portions of the proposed reductions to the current year, further reducing academic and administrative costs, lower enrollment, and consider further tuition increases. The report recommends furthering cost-cutting measures that have been implemented in recent years, including increase class sizes, consolidating and eliminating academic programs, employee furloughs, layoffs, salary cuts, and increasing employee contributions to retirement plans. Another recommendation is transforming the delivery of instruction with online learning and other technologies.

Speaking before the UC Board of Regents meeting last week, UC President Mark Yudof outlined the touch choices ahead for higher education in California. “The compass points we navigate by are access, affordability and excellence. With this latest budget proposal, we are moving dangerously close to the point where we must say: Pick any two.”

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Responding to the proposed budget cuts, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block wrote, “[W]e will intensify our development of new revenue streams. I am determined to ensure that we can continue to offer a quality education for our undergraduate and graduate students and to sustain our innovative research through these difficult times.”

While Governor Brown’s budget proposal has given little for the UC and CSU system to cheer about, today did bring one piece of good news: the LA Times reports that a Chinese businessman has “agreed to donate $10 million to UC Riverside, the largest single-donor gift ever to the campus.”

Further information about higher education funding can be found in the LAO’s Jan. 19, 2011 report, “The 2011-12 Budget: Higher Education Budget in Context.”