Despite budget cuts and increased tuition, undergraduate students in the UC system are satisfied with the quality of their education, according to survey results released this week by the UC Office of the President.
The results come from the systemwide 2012 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, with questions on academic engagement, community involvement and financial background.
According to the survey results, 82 percent of UC students responding said they were content with their overall education. Despite more than $900 million in state funding cuts to the university over the last five years, this percentage has remained relatively constant since 2006.
“I think that shows that despite the economic recession and the decreased funding to UC in recent years, we’ve been able to continue serving our students really well,” said Shelly Meron, spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, in an email.
But while academic approval has remained relatively constant, students are increasingly unhappy with the cost of getting a degree. The survey found that student satisfaction with the value of a UC education is now at 60 percent, down from 71 percent in 2006. The percent of students worried about the cost of tuition has increased from 64 to 71 percent over the last two years alone.
“Obviously we’re concerned about tuition increases, and we’re continuing to work with state legislators and the governor to resolve UC’s funding issues,” Meron said in the email.
Sereeta Alexander, research analyst at the UC Berkeley Office of Planning and Analysis, said that the campus’s own survey of new students has found similar results — that students are concerned about financing their education in the next few years.
“(The results) show that we should be thinking about how we should support students more with financial aid and scholarships — even if tuition and fees are rising,” Alexander said.
CalSERVE Senator and Executive Vice President-elect Nolan Pack said that higher student costs may reduce campus involvement, another issue studied in the survey.
“The more a college education costs, the more students have to work while they’re in school and the less time they have to do other things like public service or civic engagement,” Pack said. “The more we increase tuition, the more we’re chipping away at the holistic college experience.”
Pack also criticized possible plans to make tuition more affordable through online education, pointing out that the high academic satisfaction rates show that students value a classroom education.
“It’s clear that the quality of a UC education remains very high, but the state’s continued divestment from higher education puts that at risk,” Pack said. “The fact that students are overwhelmingly satisfied with faculty and instruction should say something. Online education … contradicts the experience of being in the classroom.”