Initiatives proposed after a year-long study of the University of California’s future are already moving ahead and will almost immediately impact the face and shape of UC Santa Barbara.
Perhaps the most controversial proposal from the UC Commission on the Future, a task force of five committees that spent a year hearing from various UC constituencies, is the plan to bring more non-California and non-U.S. students to UC. Already, UC Berkeley has upped its freshmen class to 20 percent out-of-state enrollment. UC Santa Barbara, which currently has 5 percent out-of-state enrollment, plans to increase that to 9 percent. The campus has already begun a more focused recruiting process that is targeting students from the Far East as well as students from around the country.

UC Commission on The Future Proposals

Five committees studied every aspect of UC operations and structure, from funding methods to graduation rates. UC Santa Barbara had a major influence on the outcome, with three of the committees co-chaired by campus representatives, including Chancellor Henry Yang. Former UC Santa Barbara alumni regent Phil Bugay served on the Size and Shape committee. Among the commission’s recommendations approved by the Regents were:

  • Increase out-of-state student enrollment
  • Create policies to make it easier and quicker for students to obtain a degree
  • Create new pathway for students to graduate in three years
  • Fund the Office of the President through campus assessments
  • Allow campuses to keep more of the educational fees and tuition collected from their students
  • Investigate the potential for online courses
  • Find $500 million in savings by eliminating duplication among campuses and coordinating systemwide expenses
  • Change the name of the education fee to “tuition”
  • Develop a multi-year advocacy campaign to foster public and political support for UC
  • Recover more of the operational costs of doing federal research by lobbying to increase the UC overhead charge to federal grants

  • Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, who served as co-chair of one of the Future committees, is quick to note that UC Santa Barbara does not plan to displace California students with the new recruiting. He pointed out that UC Santa Barbara already has 1,000 more California students than are being funded by the state of California. This overenrollment will give UC Santa Barbara the flexibility to enroll more out-of-state students in the future.

    The stakes are high. Because of the complicated funding formula currently used in the UC system, campuses are allowed to keep a portion of the extra $23,000 non-resident students pay each year. At UC Santa Barbara, if out-of-state students reach 9 percent of the total enrollment, it would generate an extra $13 million per year the campus could keep.
    The political fallout from this strategy has already caused the UC Regents to cap overall out-of-state enrollment at 10 percent for the entire system, meaning that popular international campuses like Berkeley and UCLA may have higher percentages than campuses like Santa Cruz and Riverside.
    But all the attention on the proposal for more out-of-state students has overshadowed what may be even more fundamental changes in the system as a result of the Committee on the Future proposals, 20 of which were endorsed late last year by the UC Regents (see related articles).

    Lucas noted that UC Santa Barbara is among the leaders in the effort to wring $500 million out of UC operations by becoming more efficient. The campus is in the initial stages of executing a plan to use the UCLA business operations computer system for its own business operations.

    The new funding mechanism for the campuses, which would allow each campus to keep more of the tuition generated on campus and fund the Office of the President with a flat fee, will help UC Santa Barbara. Currently the campus is a net donor campus, meaning it sends a higher percentage of the tuition it collects locally to the system. Under the new funding mechanism, UC Santa Barbara would get to keep more. That new system of funding has already begun, according to Lucas, with full implementation a least a year away.
    Besides the clear financial benefits for UC Santa Barbara, Lucas praised the process the University went through. “It was externally good for us because the governor and Legislature saw that we were finding steps to do business more efficiently. I think we received more money in this year’s budget (2010-11) because of the process.”

    Whether the new governor and state Legislature maintain that confidence remains to be seen. But already the future of UC is changing.

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