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UC to offer admission to all eligible undergraduates for 2008-09
California's budget challenge deepens; enrolling additional students in the future without state funding is 'not sustainable,' says Provost Hume

| 05 March 2008

The University of California will continue to offer admission in fall 2008 to all undergraduate applicants who meet its eligibility requirements, despite the fact that the governor's budget proposes to cut state funding for the university in 2008-09, UC officials announced last week.

However, they warned, UC cannot commit to expand its enrollments any further for the 2009-10 year unless the state is able to provide funding at that time for the additional students enrolled in 2008-09.

UC recently announced that California undergraduate applications for fall admission are up more than 7 percent for the 2008-09 year, setting a new volume record and reflecting strong increases among students traditionally under-represented at the university.

The decision to continue with UC's historic practice of offering all eligible students a place at one of its campuses will put increased pressure on the rest of the university's state-funded budget. The governor's proposed budget for UC is $417 million below the 2008-09 level requested by the Board of Regents.

As a result, the university will need to look even more intensively at budget reductions in other areas as well as student-fee levels. In addition, the application increases and budget constraints mean it is possible that fewer students will be admitted to their campus of first choice this year relative to prior years.

"We feel it is our obligation to continue meeting our commitments under the Master Plan for Higher Education and expand our enrollment capacity as necessary," said Wyatt Hume, UC provost and executive vice president for academic and health affairs. "However, enrolling additional students without additional state funding is not sustainable. . . .For that reason, we believe it is important to make clear now that we will not plan to expand enrollments again in 2009-10 unless our unfunded student enrollments from 2008-09 are provided for in that year's state budget."

UC had been hoping to continue with plans in 2008-09 to increase graduate-student enrollments in nursing and public-health programs, given their importance to state workforce needs. However, because of the expense of operating these programs, the university will be unable to increase enrollments in those particular fields until state funding is available.

The governor's 2008-09 state-budget proposal builds in a funding increase for UC under the 2004 "compact" with UC but then applies a 10 percent reduction, the same as for most other state General Fund programs, in recognition of the state's budget deficit of more than $14 billion. The result, as noted, is a state-funded budget $417 million below the level the regents have identified as necessary.

No decisions have been made about how to fill that gap, but a variety of impacts are possible, including larger class sizes, reductions in campus serv­ices, reductions in instructional support and research programs, student- fee increases, and employee-workforce reductions and pay freezes. In addition, UC is committing to achieve substantial administrative savings throughout the system for the 2008-09 budget, with the first phase of reductions to be proposed to the regents at their March meeting.

UC's current state-funded budget is just over $3 billion per year. The university took substantial state-budget cuts in the 1990s and again earlier this decade; state per-student funding for educating UC students has fallen from $15,830 in 1990-91 to $10,370 today, in current dollars.