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Monday, November 19 , 2018, 2:35 am | Fair 48º


UC Regents Approve 5-Year Tuition-Hike Plan

The cost of tuition could rise every year for the next five years — or not at all — beginning next fall, according to a plan approved Thursday by the University of California Regents.

Officials backed the move by a 13-7 vote at a meeting in San Francisco, essentially abandoning a two-year tuition freeze agreement penned between the UC System and the governor’s office in 2013.

Tuition had been frozen for three years.

Students across the state and some elected officials have already condemned what the UC Office of the President called a five-year stability plan, which would allow annual tuition and student fee increases of up to 5 percent for undergraduates and graduate students over five years, beginning in the fall of 2015.

Increases would depend on the level of state funding the UC System receives, and tuition could rise by the entire 5 percent or stay the same.

By that measure, UC Santa Barbara in-state students enrolling in fall 2015 could see a maximum increase of $610 — a total price tag of $12,802.

Hundreds of students protested the vote outside UCSB’s Storke Tower on Thursday afternoon in an event hosted by Associated Students Student Lobby, a group that aligned itself with the UC Student Association and other UC campuses.

“Under the pretense that this increase will provide stability for the years to come, this vote is indicative of the continuous and systemic disinvestment from higher education by the State of California,” the group said in a statement. “This vote represents a broken promise to current, future and former students across the state. Those in positions of power have not only failed us, but also thrown the prospect of having an educated workforce in jeopardy.”

The local protest followed hundreds of other students who showed up to protest planned hikes Wednesday, when a panel voted 7-2 to approve the plan, with Gov. Jerry Brown and a student regent dissenting.

At that meeting, Brown suggested instead forming a committee to investigate a variety of ideas for reducing UC’s long-term costs. While UC President Janet Napolitano and regents liked the idea, she said the UC System could not hold off the increases.

She has touted the plan as one providing students with low, predictable tuition and more access while also maintaining a robust university financial aid program and investing in educational quality.

Assuming an increase in state support of at least 4 percent, the plan is meant to allow at least 5,000 more California students to enroll over five years, reduce the student-faculty ratio, increase course selection and lessen the time to graduation.

“Despite the level of public disinvestment, its research and academic reputation have been largely sustained,” Napolitano said. “Entire swaths of the California economy — from biotechnology to the wine industry — have sprung from UC research. UC graduates lead the creativity and innovation activities upon which California prides itself.

“With this plan we can invest in faculty. This means we can increase course selection, speed time to graduation, and better support graduate education as well as undergraduate education. But we cannot continue to do these things without additional revenue.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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