UC Regents Changes ‘Tuition’ Terminology

Starting next July, UC educational fees will be renamed “tuition” in order to address the decline in state funding.

The UC Board of Regents voted for the name change at their UC San Francisco meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, and the change will be in effect as of July 1, 2011. UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said that there was “not much discussion at all” about the matter before the voting.

The name change will not impact the level of student fees, but, according to the Regents’ Committee on Educational Policy and Finance, the university can no longer claim to be a “tuition-free” institution. This description was outlined in the 1960 Master Plan for High Education. In the Master Plan, “tuition” — funded by the state — covers instructional costs while “fees” pay for services not related to instruction.

State support for the UC system was intended to cover the basic costs of university instruction for students. But after the state suffered noticeable budgetary shortfalls in the 1990s, student charges escalated and student fees began to be used to fund basic educational needs instead of services such as health and career counseling. This violated the idea of a tuition-free institution.

Using the definitions given in the master plan, the UC system has been charging tuition for the last 15 years. The action item acknowledges “higher education segments in California now charge California students for educational and instructional costs.”

By establishing a more definitive vocabulary, the use of the term “tuition” classifies the revenue and its use to fund “academic programs, student financial aid and administrative services.”

But there has been some debate in response to the word change and its implications.

By giving concrete meaning to the word “tuition,” UC Student Association leaders consider the terminology shift a way of forfeiting a tuition-free institution where instructional costs are covered by the state.

Proponents of the change advocate that the renaming is a pragmatic move and that it accurately depicts the cost of public education in the state.

In addition to changing the educational fee to tuition, the Regents voted to rename the fees for selected professional school students to “professional degree supplemental tuition,” and the name of nonresident tuition to “nonresident supplemental tuition.”

Readers can contact Asia Camagong at [email protected].

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