UC President Michael Drake addresses student tuition, failure of Prop. 16

Drake
Amudha Sairam/Staff
During an online press conference, UC President Michael Drake addressed the presidential election, congratulating President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their elections.

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During a press conference Tuesday, UC President Michael Drake discussed tuition for the upcoming school year, diversity within the UC system after the failure of Proposition 16 and working with the incoming Biden administration.

Drake opened the meeting by acknowledging the impacts of COVID-19 on the university and said he was “inspired by the flexibility and resilience of our student body.” He praised students and faculty for adapting to a remote learning environment, which he said is not a preferred method of delivering instruction but is “serving us well.”

Questions about tuition hikes came as the UC system faces a $258.4 million decrease in funding from the state government, according to the enacted California state budget of 2020-21.

“I’m sure that we won’t have an increase in tuition of any kind coming up this year,” Drake said during the teleconference. “We wouldn’t think about anything like that during the time we are still remote.”

The annual tuition for resident UC undergraduates has more than doubled over the last 15 years, from $5,406 in the 2005-06 school year to $11,442 in 2019-20, according to the UC Berkeley Office of the Registrar. Nonresident UC undergraduate costs have grown at a similar pace, from $23,226 to $41,196 during the same time frame.

Between March and August, the UC system lost $2.2 billion as a result of the pandemic. Much of this budgetary gap has been closed, according to Drake, with money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, a hiring and salary freeze and the UC hospitals “working overtime.” In this effort to get the UC budget under control, Drake said protecting low-income workers is of utmost importance.

“We’ll continue to do all we can to avoid layoffs as we move forward,” Drake said during the press conference.

Drake also addressed the presidential election, congratulating President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their elections and saying he plans to maintain “good relationships” with the administration.

Additionally, Drake said the university is particularly interested in working with the Biden administration to develop protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students and other undocumented students who have been an “integral part of the excellence of our university.”

In light of the failure of Prop. 16, Drake said the UC  system wants to continue to promote diversity for students, staff and faculty. He noted that this past year, the UC system admitted the most ethnically diverse class of first-year students in its history, but he said more work must be done.

“There are many things that we can do to help continue to maintain access and affordability and excellence, and a big part of that is to make sure we can continue to champion diversity,” Drake said during the press conference.

Contact Kaleo Mark and Amudha Sairam at [email protected].