University of California President Janet Napolitano recently announced a postponement to a proposed tuition increase as a good faith gesture toward negotiations with California Governor Jerry Brown over higher education funding.
"We're having serious discussions both with the governor and with the Legislature," Napolitano said after delivering remarks at the University of Southern California. "Those are underway so it seemed premature to go ahead and jumpstart the tuition increase."
Napolitano and Brown have been meeting over proposals that could allow the university to accept more students without increasing its tuition or forcing a massive budget hike.
The Board of Regents recently approved a 5% tuition increase over the next five years unless the state can provide more money to the university. The governor's proposed spending plan would increase the UC system's budget by $120 million as long as tuition is not raised.
However, UC officials feel that isn't enough money. Napolitano said the increases are necessary in order to keep the school system world-class.
According to Napolitano, the increase has been postponed both as a gesture "optimistic about the ongoing negotiations and how they will be bear fruit," as well as a practical measure that would allow students to enroll in summer courses with less uncertainty.
The increase was set to begin this summer. The postponement would not stop tuition from being increased in the fall, although Napolitano hopes to avoid doing so, writes Larry Gordon for The LA Times.
"It is our conviction all parties engaged in these negotiations want tuition to be as low as possible and as predictable as possible," she said.
Lawmakers in Sacramento are becoming increasingly concerned with the tuition hikes. Senate Bill 15 was recently introduced by State Senate President Tempore Kevin de Leon in an effort to stop the hikes and make college more affordable for students in the state. In addition, a UC Budget Hearing will be held this week by an Assembly subcommittee, in which a "zero-based budget approach" will be applied, according to Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assembly member Kristin Olsen. The two went on to say that "every line item of an organization's budget must be approved, rather than only changes from the previous year."
Brown would like to see the university operate under the proposed budget system by increasing the number of hours that faculty are required to teach, putting more classes online, encouraging students to complete their degrees in four years or less, and making it easier for community college students to transfer to UC schools.