November 9, 2011

UC outlines state funding needs

OAKLAND — University of California President Mark G. Yudof on Tuesday (Nov. 8 ) unveiled the 2012-13 expenditure plan to be proposed to the Board of Regents next week, outlining the minimal state funding needed to preserve UC access for eligible California students while maintaining the academic excellence of its 10-campus public university system.

The board is scheduled to discuss and vote on the plan — which, if approved, would comprise UC’s budget request to the state — during its meeting at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus on Nov. 16-17. No tuition actions are on the agenda.

Among the key goals underlining the university’s state budget request are preserving academic quality and maintaining access to all eligible California students. Last year the state provided enrollment growth funding of $51.3 million to support 5,121 full-time students. But even with this revenue, the deep cutback in support over the past years translates to more than 24,000 California residents for whom no funding is currently provided.

“The University of California cannot indefinitely cover the gap in state funding of students,” Yudof said. “The state’s failure to fully fund enrollment threatens both access and academic excellence.

“The University of California sets a high standard through our combination of excellence and access. We are working to develop new revenues, including private giving, that enable us to maintain and expand that commitment. But, over the long run, we need stability in state funding to preserve the quality that has made UC an engine of opportunity, social mobility and innovation, benefiting people in every part of the state.”

In the 2012-13 state budget request, the university requests funding of $36.6 million for 1 percent enrollment growth, an increase of 2,100 students.

Also up for a vote at the November meeting are increases in employee and university contributions to the University of California Retirement Plan, part of UC’s effort to address the plan’s unfunded liability and long-term viability.

Building on the regents’ discussion of the university’s larger financial picture at the September meeting, the regents will hear reports on efforts to boost revenue through private giving, enhance the entrepreneurial and product development benefits of the technology transfer program and achieve savings through modernizing and consolidating antiquated payroll systems.

Given the uncertainties of state finances and the current development by the governor of the 2012-13 state budget, university officials are seeking the regents’ approval of only the expenditure part of the proposed UC budget. The revenue component, which would include funding the state legislature hasn’t yet passed, will be brought to the board at a later meeting.

California’s continuing disinvestment in public higher education has meant that for the first time this year students paid more — about $2.97 billion — toward the cost of their education than did the state, which contributed $2.37 billion.

The university’s core funds — made up of state general funds, UC general funds and tuition and student fees — provide permanent support for UC’s core mission and support activities. These include faculty salaries and benefits, academic and administrative support, student services, building operation and maintenance, and student financial aid. In 2011-12, these core funds totaled $6.1 billion, or 27 percent of UC’s total systemwide budget.

The expenditure proposal includes $225 million in cost savings and alternative revenue sources. It also includes $310 million to preserve academic quality through hiring of faculty and lecturers to improve the faculty-student ratio; expanding course offerings and reducing class size; increasing competitiveness of graduate support; extending hours of libraries and other student services; and reinvesting in instructional support, including for libraries, instructional equipment and technology, and building maintenance.

Other areas covered by the state funding request are continued expansion for both nursing and medicine — including establishment of a new medical school at UC Riverside — employee compensation and health benefits, deferred maintenance and building retrofitting. The university has partially offset the proposed expenditures through significant efficiencies and other savings, as well as through alternative revenue sources.

The $87.6 million that the university plans to ask the legislature to allocate for UC pension costs in 2012-13 represents only a quarter of the state’s designated $255.6 million contribution to the plan. Although the state fulfills its pension obligations to the California State University and Community Colleges systems, it currently is not making any contributions to the University of California. As a result, UC has been forced to divert funds from other operational areas, such as those associated with its core educational mission, to cover pension obligations.