Editorial

    Facing the possibility of a 20 percent cut in state funding for the 2003-04 academic year, the UC Regents have passed a preliminary budget that considers two options for making up the lost funding: Either the Regents raise tuition by 6.5 percent, thereby generating about $49 million, or they depend on state legislature to pick up the tab.

    Compared to other universities of the same caliber, the average tuition to attend a UC school is extremely low: just $3,429 per year. Raising tuition 6.5 percent would cost students an additional $225. While it is true that this amount would mean the difference between some people being able to go to a UC school and having to attend a less expensive school, higher education is already — and to some extent probably always will be — an unattainable luxury for some; and there will continue to be cheaper options for these students, such as California State Universities and community colleges. In addition, the regents reduced tuition by 10 percent in 1994, meaning that any pending increases would merely restore this loss of revenue rather than set an all-time high for UC tuition.

    The University of California is one of few public universities that can boast not having to raise tuition once in the past eight years. To rely on the legislature to foot the bill for a below-cost education instead of raising fees (which would be considered routine at universities of lesser stature) is ridiculous. Having not seen an increase since 1994, it would be naive for us to think that there won’t be one in the future, whether the legislature forks over the money or not. It is better to endure a small increase now rather than a huge increase later.

    Alternatives to raising tuition include cutting research programs, delaying restoration on equipment and technology, and reducing money for student services. All of these options boil down to one thing: cutting the programs and services that make this a world-class university in the first place.

    As the Regents find themselves sharply divided over the issue of a fee hike, the Guardian urges them to give the state a break and ask students to pay a little more for what they’re already getting at a steal.

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