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UC Regents Raise Student Fees $550 : Education: The action increases basic annual undergraduate costs to $2,824. A demonstration results in five arrests at the Davis campus.

January 18, 1992|LARRY GORDON | TIMES EDUCATION WRITER

DAVIS — Prompting a massive student demonstration that led to five arrests, the UC Board of Regents on Friday voted to raise annual undergraduate fees next year by 24%, or $550.

The action boosts fees to $2,824, not including living expenses.

Combined with a 40% increase that took effect at the beginning of the current school year and a 10% hike in 1990, UC fees for state residents will have gone up $1,348 over the past two years, a cumulative rise of 91%.

Marisela Marquez, president of the UC Student Assn., warned that the fee hike will push lower- and middle-income students out of the UC system, endangering the access that has long been the hallmark of higher education in California.

"A public University of California is the greatest of gifts that each generation of Californians passes on to the next," Marquez told the regents, who were meeting at UC Davis. "But every time student fees go up, every time you allow more of the burden to be shifted from the state to the individuals, the university loses some of that essential quality, its public nature."

After the regents meeting, about 300 students staged a sit-in in the campus building where the trustees had met. Five UC Davis students were arrested on charges that included collaborating to incite a riot, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. They were later released. Eventually the crowd grew to 1,000, but most had dispersed by 5 p.m., and authorities said they would not attempt to evict any of the remaining students.

During the regents meeting, David P. Gardner, president of the nine-campus UC system, said the increase was made necessary in large part by the recession's effect on state revenues and by the mandates to spend money on such services as public elementary and secondary schools, community colleges, prisons and welfare. He criticized as "inexplicable" the fact that community college fees rose only $20 in the 1991-92 school year, to $120, and are not expected to rise at all this fall.

Gardner, who is to retire on Oct. 1, pledged that all needy students will receive extra financial aid. To help offset the higher fees, he also ordered an increase in faculty teaching loads to offer students more courses over the next three years. Details of the heavier teaching load will be decided campus by campus.

In addition to the $2,824 in fees, UC undergraduates will pay an average of $212 for such items as student government and health services. Those expenses vary widely among the campuses and are not set by the regents.

UC's new undergraduate rates will be only $112 higher than the average basic education fees charged at 23 comparable universities, UC officials said. But student leaders and UC officials agree that UC is one of the most expensive public universities in the country when living costs are included. With room, board, books and transportation, the cost of a UC undergraduate education for a Californian who lives in a dormitory will be about $11,000 next year, UC officials said.

Gov. Pete Wilson, who recommended the 24% rise as part of his state budget last week, has said that UC fees remain a good deal. An ex officio regent, Wilson attended Friday's meeting and, along with 19 other regents, voted for the increase.

"We are compelled to take very tough actions and make very tough choices," the governor said.

The student representative on the board, UC San Francisco graduate student Diana Darnell, was in tears after reluctantly voting for the increase, saying she was torn between trying to protect UC's quality and her constituents' pocketbooks.

The only no vote was cast by Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy, also an ex officio regent.

For the current school year, the regents doubled to 40% the fee hike that had been requested by the governor. That move was seen as the only way to avoid layoffs and cuts in course offerings. Early retirement packages and salary freezes also helped.

Under the governor's proposed budget for 1992-93, UC would receive $2.82 billion next year in state funds and student fees. That would be 4.5% more than last year, but less than half the increase the regents sought. (Altogether, those funds account for only about a third of UC's revenue, much of which comes from federal, private and hospital sources.)

Gardner and other UC officials expressed satisfaction that Wilson's budget would allow current UC enrollment of 166,500 to increase by 2,700 and avoid dreaded enrollment cuts. The budget provides for no cost-of-living raises for staff and faculty, but does include merit raises of up to 5% for about a third of them.

The UC president cited three goals for the system: maintaining its international reputation for academic excellence, assuring entrance to all eligible students on at least one campus, and keeping student fees in line with national rates while providing enough financial aid.

For out-of-state students, undergraduate fees will also increase by $550, to $10,053, plus campus-based fees and room and board. Graduate student fees will rise to an average total of $3,363 for California residents and $11,062 for non-residents.

On Tuesday, trustees of the 20-campus California State University system voted to raise student fees by 40%, or $372, to $1,308 for full-time undergraduates who are state residents. The Cal State action requires legislative approval, but the UC action does not.

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