California has diversity.
In Los Angeles alone there are 224 different languages spoken among its 12.9 million residents.
So why, might you ask, is University of California, Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance John Wilton bubbling over with enthusiasm about how an uptick in out-of-state students had increased that campus’ diversity?
It’s simple. Top tier vice chancellors at Berkeley can pocket as much as $450,000 a year plus enjoy $135,000 bonuses.
Vice chancellors are state employees. Keep this in mind given Gov Jerry Brown’s salary — the head of all of state government — is $165,288. And that’s a decline from $172,000 prior to 2012 Unlike vice chancellors that did not take pay cuts during the Great Recession and have since had big pay hikes, the governor had his pay cut to share the pain of all Californians except, of course, UC faculty and administration.
During a six-year period ending in 2012 that encompassed all of the Great Rescission, UC salaries ballooned by just under 29 percent. This happened while state funding was slashed $750 million and long-term debt due to soaring retirement costs reached $24.6 billion. It also happened when virtually every California taxpayer was being knocked down to the mat by the economy.
So how is the UC top brass able to spend so much money?
The answer is simple. First they raised in-state tuition by 18 percent to $12,192. (Once campus specific fees are added that comes to $13,300 on average for an in-state student,) And since that wasn’t enough, they slashed in-state enrollment.
An out-of-state student pays $36,178 on average in tuition and campus specific fees each year.
The more out-of-state students, the less need to forgo big salary hikes let alone even entertain the thought of reducing compensation.
Question this strategy and you’ll quickly be told UC has to stay competitive with the likes of Harvard and Stanford or else everyone will stampede to the exits. So if every state university system in this country held the line on pay hikes where would they all run to?
This probably won’t surprise you but every other state-run university outside of California is doing the same thing: Raising in-state tuition and reducing in-state admissions.
Big deal, you say. You wouldn’t say that if you had a kid trying to get into a four-year university. More and more well qualified California high school graduates are being forced to go out of state to get an education at four to five times the cost. The same applies to students in other states that have to go to school in another state.
In other words, taxpayers — regardless of what state they live in — are being forced to pay more for higher education for their children while getting no relief on the fact their in-state taxes support state-run universities and colleges.
Taxpayers regardless of where they live in the United States are being taken for a ride.
Then there is the issue of the higher education cartel.
They don’t have to respond to the market because they manipulate the market virtually in unison.
The best example is government backed student loans. Universities successfully lobby Congress to not cap the loans.
With no loan caps, there is no pressure to keep prices down. You raise prices and the student in the system has to keep paying the price in order to finish their degree. But if they had no source for additional funding — such as more loans or an increase in their loan cap — they couldn’t continue which in effect would undermine the higher education financial model.
If that were to happen, higher education would have to cut positions or cut salaries. Or — better yet — find new efficiencies such as ways to deliver a four year degree in three years.
The taxpayers of California built the UC system. It was built for the primary purpose of educating the young people of this state so a stronger state can be built with an improved quality of living for all. Times do change. We are no longer isolated from the rest of the country by a 2,000-mile trek across country by wagon
But when almost four out of every 10 students at UC Berkeley are not from California what are we telling our young people who apply and come out of high schools at the top of their class and are more than qualified to gain entrance to a UC campus?
Sorry, but you can’t go to UC Berkeley because you’re a Californian and campus paper pushers deserve $450,000 a year?
Maybe the time has come to sell the UC system — or at least those campuses that opt to have more than 10 percent of their students from out-of-state — at market value and use the money received to start a university system where California kids can actually go. As it is now a growing number have to go out of state spending four times the amount of money even though their parents, forefathers, and neighbors bankrolled the UC system.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.