No-strings Calif. university funding

Jun 14, 2013 by

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown has backed off his proposal to tie some money for California’s public universities to such requirements as improving graduation rates, enrolling more low-income students and freezing tuition for four years.Jerry-Brown

University of California and California State University officials fought Brown’s carrot-and-stick approach to higher education, which the governor had embedded in his budget plan.

Brown wanted to steadily increase funding for universities over the next four years as long as they met specific conditions — ensuring more students finish their degrees on time, enrolling more transfers from community colleges and other measures — and to withhold the money if tuition was raised.

Representatives of the universities said Brown’s proposals were too rigid and unrealistic after years of budget cuts, and key lawmakers agreed. As a result of this week’s budget deal, the universities will be required simply to track the number of low-income students they have, the percentage of students who finish within four or six years, the number graduating with engineering and computer degrees and several other statistics.

The $96.3-billion spending plan scheduled for a vote in the Legislature on Friday contains $250 million more than last year for each university system — and no financial penalties. Both systems said they’re already making progress on Brown’s benchmarks and have agreed to forgo undergraduate tuition hikes for at least the coming academic year.

After that, “we are not etching anything in stone,” said Dianne Klein, a UC spokeswoman. “Plans change from year to year.”

Cal State isn’t planning any tuition increases for the next two years, said spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp.

The stalling of Brown’s quest to overhaul higher education is one of the year’s only setbacks for the governor, who has pushed to reshape the relationship between Sacramento and public universities wary of politicians’ interference. But he still hopes to use the promise of more money to prod the universities to run more efficiently and serve more students.

via Brown retreats from conditions on university funding –

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