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State Universities Struggle

by Thomas Sbrega, published

State Universities have seen better days. In the next five years, classes are expected to increase by 10-20% while faculty is expected to decline by 10%. Tuition has more than doubled in nine years. 724 staff members have been laid off already, system-wide. Furloughs will be implemented September 1st.

From 2001 to 2008 financing for the system grew only 2%, while enrollment grew 30%. State prisons, K-12 public schools and health and human services each grew by more than 40%, The New York Times reports.

According to a Mercury News article, staff will be asked to either take a percentage cut (4 – 10%, depending on income) or furloughs days (11 – 26), or a combination of both.

Jason and Amber, a married couple I had a conversation with Saturday, are disappointed with the decision. They both are employed by California State Universities. While one would rather take the furlough days (if she must choose), the other points out that some are there to do a job, that is, they are not “on the clock” so therefore regardless of their choice, the fact remains: they will be working the same while earning less. He already works 50 hours per week and foresees no reduction in workload- only in pay.

All this is due to the expected $813 million reduction in state financing. Of which, a quarter of the gap will be filled with approved student fee increases. Most of the rest will be filled with furlough plans for faculty and refinancing debt, according to the University of California website.

In the last couple days, Ellen Richards, “LA College Bound Examiner,” summarized the cuts for the State Universities as well as public Universities. One thing is for sure, she says, the CA State Universities have shut their doors on 35,000 students historically expected to enroll in the spring.

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