UC-Berkeley's attempt to balance budgets ill-conceived

Earlier this month, UC Berkeley released its plan to cut 500 staff positions in the next two years, according to the Washington Post. This effectively reduces the workforce there by six percent in order to ease financial burdens.

According to Berkeley officials, the school’s expenses exceed its revenue by $150 million, while the UC Berkeley Chancellor predicts the staff reductions will yield about $50 million a year. The Washington Post reports that state appropriations for UC Berkeley are at about 13 percent, which is a significant decrease from the 50 percent it was once at in the 1980s.

However, this drop in state funding is not surprising given the recent state audit released revealing the university’s 82 percent increase in nonresident enrollment from 2010-11 through 2014-15, coupled with a one percent decrease in resident enrollment, according to USA Today.

In 2008, the Office of the President allowed for UC schools to set separate expectations for nonresident applicants, which, in recent years, have been shown to be lower than those for resident applicants. The California State Auditor provided the university with 21 recommendations only to have the university implement seven.

The report highlights alternative options the university could have pursued. Such options include reducing employee salary costs, which rose from $8 billion to $13 billion over the past ten years. However, UC Berkeley took this suggestion to its furthest extent by reducing a fraction of employee salary to nil.

Despite the financial burdens the UC schools are currently experiencing, the tactics the schools are presently using, undermining resident applicants and cutting faculty, won’t be sustainable in the long run. Not only does this greatly affect the educational opportunity of the resident students, but it hampers the university’s attempt to meet the legislature’s desire for the university student body to reflect the diversity of the state.

While non-resident applicants do bring a geographic diversity to the university, of those admitted, only 11 percent were of underrepresented minorities.

The university publically claimed in its operating budget that increased enrollment of nonresidents would allow for an increase in enrollment of its resident applicants; however, the statistics speak otherwise. So as to learn from the shortfalls of another public state school, the University of Connecticut, currently facing budgetary concerns, should attempt to avoid following in the track of the University of California schools.