Dec 7, 2009
On November19, the University of California (UC) Board of Regents hiked tuition by 32%. This provoked student demonstrations on many campuses, including at UCLA, where the Board of Regents meeting was held, as well as at Berkeley, Davis and Santa Cruz.
This enormous tuition hike was only the latest in a series of big attacks by the University of California. It has slashed student enrollment, laid off thousands of teachers and staff, and imposed across-the-board pay cuts and furloughs.
The UC President Mark Yudof claims that these attacks are the painful but necessary result of California’s budget crisis and cuts in state funding. “When you don’t have any money, you don’t have any money,” said Yudof.
No money? The UC system took in more money last year than ever before. Federal stimulus money made up for most of the state budget cuts. The four billion dollars in surplus (that is, profits) from the five UC medical centers more than made up for the rest. Besides that, the UC system got increased funding from government and private grants, as well as sharply higher fees for everything from parking to housing.
In its latest report, Moody’s, the Wall Street rating company, found that the UC system has “healthy and highly consistent operating performance.” The UC system has so much money, it just lent the state of California over a half a billion dollars.
Of course, it is hardly a surprise that the UC system would be loaning money to the state government. The UC Board of Regents is dominated by bankers and speculators. Regents Chairman Russell Gould, appointed by Republican Governor Schwarzenegger, was a senior vice president at Wachovia Bank, a major source of student loans, which collapsed last year during the financial crisis. The previous chairman was investment banker, Richard Blum, appointed by Democratic Governor Gray Davis. Blum, who is married to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, owns and controls companies in real estate, construction, and the military, which are also important avenues of business and research for the UC system schools.
“Universities, in some ways, are just a kind of front for investment banks and investments” – so explained Bob Samuels, American Federation of Teachers president at the University of California. Big tuition hikes, cutbacks in classes, staffing and pay, are all used to put more money into the pockets of big business. It’s no different than what is happening in the educational system throughout the country.