UC regents to address state audit, professional degree supplemental tuition this week

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The UC Board of Regents will convene Sept. 12-14 at the UC San Diego Price Center to discuss UC professional degree supplemental tuition, a university-implemented summer STEM program for underrepresented youth and the results of the Aug. 22 state audit of the UC system.

Professional degree supplemental tuition, or PDST, is added to the base tuition for graduate professional programs in order to fund additional services for students, including career help and real-world training. After amendments to the PDST policy were approved in March 2017, several updates have been made to implement them. Graduate professional programs that already assess PDST fees must now submit a multi-year plan within a certain time frame.

UC spokesperson Stephanie Beechem said in an email that the policy updates were intended to “provide a better process for professional programs to plan and budget for the future.”

Graduate programs offering professional degrees are not currently required to assess PDST fees, according to Beechem. Those that want to opt into the program must document consultation with faculty and staff, as well as how the fees would improve the program.

Kena Hazelwood-Carter, president of the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly, emphasized the need to continually assess whether PDST funds were beneficial to students through various forms of outreach.

“The university as a whole is doing a great job in terms of having more conversations,” Hazelwood-Carter said. “It’s ultimately really important that we keep it student-centered. (Students) are here to get a quality education, and not a source of income.”

The regents will also discuss the Leadership, Academic Excellence, Unleashing Potential, Nutritional Health, College Bound, High Self-Esteem, or LAUNCH, program. The program is part of a UC initiative to enroll a more diverse student body, according to the agenda item.

Developed as a partnership between the university and a Los Angeles church, LAUNCH allows students in West Los Angeles to participate in accelerated math and science courses. Students are also given a tour of the UCLA campus.

Although the LAUNCH Academy is currently only operational in Los Angeles, Beechem stated that the university is “very encouraged” by the success of the program.

The regents will review recommendations given by state auditors regarding contracted employees Wednesday. According to the agenda item, the audit found that UC campuses did not always justify employee displacement as per the requirements. Additionally, service contract workers earned less than other university workers, often without proper benefits.

Beechem stated that in response to the audit, the university is making several changes, including improving systemwide guidelines, adding staff training and implementing new contracting software.

“UC views this audit as an opportunity for improvement that will allow us to achieve even greater efficiency in carrying out the university’s teaching, research and service missions,” Beechem said in an email.

Revati Thatte is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @revati_thatte.

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