CAPPS - Avocacy and Communication Professional Development

California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Cal State and UC fee hikes off the table, for now

11/15/2012

Contra Costa Times - November 13, 2012

Students weren't the only ones pushing back against a Cal State University plan to create space for more students by levying fees on those who take too long to graduate.

Gov. Jerry Brown -- whose Proposition 30 tax measure passed last week, sparing the university system $250 million in midyear cuts -- also urged the trustees to take a step back. They did, announcing Tuesday that the matter was no longer up for discussion.

Tuesday afternoon, the University of California regents followed suit, announcing that they were withdrawing a planned discussion of raising fees on some professional graduate degrees by as much as 35 percent.

The item was tabled to give the governor time to study the issue, according to a UC new release.

One San Jose State student leader said she was incredulous when she learned the Cal State trustees would not discuss the fee issue.

"It's a big success for the students," said Herlinda Aguirre, a fifth-year art history major at San Jose State who helped organize a demonstration last week. "I've never been in the position where the student voice actually won."

Brown attended the Cal State trustees meeting in Long Beach, a first for the governor in this term, and thanked the board for tabling the proposal. Now that Proposition 30 has passed, Brown said, he hoped to see a more harmonious relationship among the university's constituencies, as well as in Sacramento.

"We have our divisions," Brown said, according to a transcript of his remarks. "But the people have given us the vote of confidence contrary to the skeptics, and what I call the dystopians. Let's measure up to the expectation of the voters."

Bob Linscheid, the Cal State board chairman, explained as he opened the meeting that the decision to drop the fee issue was influenced by "conversations with the students, the governor and others," and by the outcome of Proposition 30. While the system must find a way to free up space for new students, he said, "We believe there are other avenues to get to that goal."

The proposal in question -- new fees for "super seniors," those who repeat a course, and those who take more than a full course load -- was intended to encourage those students to move more quickly or move out and make way for up to 18,000 more students a year in the 23-campus Cal State system.

The question now is how Cal State, which has been turning away some 20,000 qualified students annually, will reverse that pattern, given its severe financial constraints.

Cal State spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp said the trustees were also responding to the perception, aired in news reports, that the fee hike was somehow linked to Proposition 30. Although the Cal State proposal was in the works long before voters went to the polls, he said, "The complaint is that we had advocated to get Prop. 30 passed and then we turned around and asked for a fee hike," he said.