Board of Regents will meet to discuss 2016-17 budget proposal, principles against intolerance

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The UC Board of Regents will meet Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at UCSF Mission Bay to discuss the 2016-17 budget proposal and hear an update on the working draft of the Statement of Principals Against Intolerance.

The budget proposal includes some changes in enrollment growth that represent some sort of resolution to a year of heightening tension over the demographics of the University of California — which have shifted to reflect an increasing percentage of out-of-state students — and a series of negotiations between the state and the university over funding.

Here, The Daily Californian hopes to provide some context for the enrollment plan and outline some other topics that will be discussed at the board meeting this week.

Who are the regents again?

The UC Board of Regents is the governing body of the University of California. Under the California Constitution, the regents have “full powers of organization and governance” of the university, and the board is supposed to be independent of political influence.

The board contains 26 members, the majority of which are appointed for 12-year terms by the governor. One regent is a student appointed by the regents for a one-year term. The remaining members are “ex officio” members; these include people such as the governor and the speaker of the assembly.

What might happen with enrollment if the regents approve the budget?

At its Thursday meeting, the board will discuss the 2016-17 budget proposal, which accounts for an enrollment plan that aims to add 10,000 in-state students to the UC system over the course of the next three years.

The state and the university’s relationship has been rocky for the last year or so: Tensions escalated in November 2014, when students across the UC system protested the regents’ contentious vote to increase tuition at their regular meeting. The tuition increase policy is widely acknowledged as a reaction to the dramatic drop in funding from the state during the previous decade.

Though the tuition hike was approved in November, through a series of negotiations between the state and the university, a funding agreement was ultimately reached in May.

The new enrollment plan outlined in the budget proposal comes, in part, as a result of the funding agreement reached in May. The board’s budget plan relies on the agreement later added to the final budget in which the state commits to granting the university a one-time payment of $25 million if the university meets enrollment growth of 5,000 by the May 1, 2016, deadline. The university’s budget plan not only commits to this initial enrollment increase but also plans for additional enrollment growth of 2,500 during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years. In sum, this accounts for an increase of 10,000 students within the UC system.

What exactly was the May funding agreement?

On May 14, UC President Janet Napolitano announced a funding agreement with the state that would provide the university with new revenue and guarantee a two-year tuition freeze for in-state students.

The framework notes that after this two-year tuition freeze, in-state tuition will see modest increases tied to inflation.

Out-of-state tuition, however, will be subject to more significant increases. The regents authorized annual increases of nonresident supplemental tuition of up to 8 percent annually.

Why are we so stressed about how many out-of-state students we enroll?

The plan arrives amid a debate about university’s increasing enrollment of out-of-state students, who many say take the spots of California students.

In 2007, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, approximately 95 percent of undergraduate students were California residents. By 2014-15 year, this number had plummeted to less tah 87 percent, with the state Legislature having withdrawn more than $810 million in funding (after inflation).

Many cite the importance of diversity as a benefit of the inflow of out-of-state students into the university, but much of the quantitative benefit comes from the money they bring.

As state funding for the university has waned, out-of-state students’ supplemental tuition — currently $24,024 — has provided some financial cushioning to the system.

A fall 2013 report from the UC Office of the President on freshman and transfer intent-to-register outcomes noted that nonresidents pay higher tuition, thus “self-funding” the cost of their education and supporting more course offerings and faculty hirings, which, according to the report, benefits all students.

Carol Christ, director of the campus Center for Studies in Higher Education, noted in an email that enrollment pressure on the UC system is a major public policy challenge. She attributes reductions in state funding for the university largely to the effect of taxation measures that limit the tax burden on California citizens and to mandatory set-asides of state revenue.

“The state simply doesn’t have enough money to fund public higher education in the way in which it used to do so,” Christ said in an email.

To maintain its “level of excellence,” the university needs to find alternative sources of revenue, Christ said. Out-of-state and international students bring tuition dollars that offset state revenue losses, but they also displace Californians.

The drastically increasing levels of out-of-state enrollment is extremely apparent on the more competitive campuses, such as UC Berkeley and UCLA.

Adopted in 1960, the California Master Plan for Higher Education established a commitment to providing access to and affordability of higher education for California citizens. With more and more students entering the system from other states and countries, however, many criticize the system for disregarding its mission to serve California citizens.

In March, Napolitano announced a cap on nonresident enrollment at UCLA and UC Berkeley, where out-of state demand is the highest, in response to such concerns and amid immense pressure from the state to cap nonresident enrollment.

What exactly is the enrollment plan accounted for in the university’s 2016-17 budget proposal?

The proposal seeks to expand in-state undergraduate enrollment by 10,000 over the next three years. The $25 million provided by the state to support enrollment growth — the same funding contingent on at least a 5,000 increase in enrollment — accounts for half the cost of educating additional resident students. The university will provide the other half to fund the growth.

UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said every campus would see a significant rise in undergraduate enrollment — not just campuses that aren’t as popular with out-of-state students.

To support the additional enrollment, the university is asking for another $6 million in funding to bring in 600 more graduate students to teach the larger base of undergraduate students and thus uphold its educational quality. Though the plan’s focus is increasing the enrollment of in-state students, it accounts for an increase in out-of-state enrollment by 1,200. This, however, is a decrease in the rate of nonresident growth from last year.

What happened at the last meeting?

At the last meeting, held Sept. 15-17 at UC Irvine, the UC Regents’ Committee on Investments heard an update on fiscal performance in the 2014-15 year, during which Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher, said the university’s assets performed especially well, bringing in close to $8 billion in additional value and increasing UC assets’ total worth to more than $98 billion. Bachher said he doesn’t expect to see as high a level of performance next year.

Bachher also discussed his office’s recent decision to sell direct holdings in coal and oil sands companies as part of a new framework for sustainable investing.

At the September board meeting, the regents additionally discussed a proposed new policy and amendments to a bylaw that aims to increase the regents’ oversight of UC Health’s governing body, the Committee on Health Services.

In the time since the September meeting, the proposal has been reworked to address initial concerns over allowing nonregent members to have voting power. This week, regents will vote on this modified proposal.

Furthermore, discussion will carry over from last meeting on the Statement of Principles Against Intolerance, which aim to standardize the university’s policy on discriminatory actions and speech.

The statement was criticized before and during the meeting by members of the public and regents alike for being too broad, particularly because it did not specifically include the term “anti-Semitism.” Student Regent Avi Oved expressed his frustration with being left out of the development of the statement.

The UC Board of Regents’ Committee on Educational Policy decided to convene a working group and revise the statement so as to better address public concern. The regents will hear an update on the working draft Thursday morning.

The meeting will include ongoing discussion of the UC Merced 2020 Project, which focuses on the expansion and development of the Merced campus, as well as financial and development decisions associated with the campus.

The regents will also hear updates on various annual reports, such as the Annual Report on Ethics and Compliance Activities, and vote on whether to recommend to the board that the Internal Audit Charter be amended.

Suhauna Hussain is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @suhaunah.