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UC schools may see changes, like 3-yr degrees

March 24, 2010 12:23:52 AM PDT
The University of California system could soon see some big changes, including the possibility of three-year undergraduate degrees.The state budget crisis is forcing a UC commission to look into restructuring the 10-campus system.

In response to its budget crisis, the university has reduced student enrollment, furloughed faculty and staff, slashed course offerings and raised student fees by more than 30 percent over the past year.

"There are a number of options that are being explored, and really the goal is to maintain access, affordability and quality," said Steven Montiel, spokesman for the UC schools.

The three-year degree option includes ideas like including summer school and online courses.

"I don't know how they're going to do that now, when I can barely get into my classes. The average graduation time is about five years," said student Tony Thai. "Not going to happen."

Getting a four-year degree in three years is the biggest of the proposals, but there are other ideas that are generating controversy.

"I want to go to a school that represents our entire country and our state especially, and I think the changes that the regents are discussing ? will perhaps jeopardize that," said a UC law student identified as Joseph.

One proposal would allow more out-of-state students into the UC system because the out-of-state students pay a higher rate of tuition that would bring in a lot more money to the UC system. However, it may limit the number of students from Calif.

"I think California education should stay in California, and I know we're in a tough place and we need more money, but I don't think that's the answer," said student Kelsey Kaszas.

There are some UC campuses that are much more popular than others, and another idea being discussed is charging more for schools like UCLA and UC Berkeley, which are the two most popular campuses.

Other ideas proposed include:

  • Make it easier for community college students to transfer to UC by making course requirements more consistent across campuses.
  • Explore the use of online instruction for undergraduate, graduate and extension programs to reduce costs, expand access to high-demand courses and reduce graduation times.
  • Establish a multiyear fee schedule for undergraduates so incoming students will know how much they will be paying each year.
  • Make undocumented California high school graduates eligible to receive UC financial aid.

The Board of Regents, which is meeting this week in San Francisco, is expected to consider the commission's first set of recommendations in July after getting feedback from students, faculty, staff and the public. Another set of recommendations will be released in July.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.