UC panel offers ideas to cut costs, raise revenue

A University of California commission is calling for more out-of-state students, fully online classes and three-year undergraduate degrees as the UC system navigates an era of rising costs and reduced government support.

The report released Monday by the UC Commission on the Future offers 20 strategies the 10-campus system can use to address its financial challenges while fulfilling its education and research mission.

The UC Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on endorsing the report when it meets in San Francisco on Dec. 13, when it will also be voting on a contentious plan to reform its employee pension program.

Among the recommendations approved by the commission:

• Increase systemwide enrollment of nonresident students, who pay about three times the tuition residents pay, from 6 percent to 10 percent.

• Create a pathway for undergraduates to complete degrees in certain majors in three years, which could save both the students and university money.

• Expand exploration of financially self-supporting programs, such as UC Extension and executive MBA degrees.

The 10-campus system is already moving ahead with some the commission's recommendations, such as creating a pilot program of fully online courses for degree credit, making it easier for community college students to transfer to UC and streamlining administration systemwide to save $500 million annually.

The report also includes recommendations the commission considered but did not approve. Those included establishing multiyear tuition tables so that incoming freshmen know how much their education will cost and won't be caught off-guard by tuition increases, and allowing campuses to charge different tuition levels so that the most selective schools would cost more.

The commission, which was formed last year and is made up of faculty, students, staff alumni and administrators, also offers "contingency recommendations" the university should consider if the state's finances worsen.

Those recommendations include raising tuition, reducing financial aid, shrinking the work force, limiting enrollment of California students and further increasing nonresident enrollment.

"The report is one important step in several that we have been taking at the university to get through a very severe, sharp fiscal crisis and to ready the university to grow and serve the state," said UC spokesman Peter King.

© 2010 The Associated Press.