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UC panel discusses proposals to make university more efficient

March 23, 2010 | 12:30 pm

The University of California on Tuesday began considering dramatic changes in the way it educates its students and raises revenues, including the possibilities of offering three-year bachelor degrees and enrolling many more out-of-state undergraduates.

In a meeting at UC San Francisco, the UC Commission on the Future heard its first group of proposals aimed at making the 10-campus system more efficient in a time of economic austerity, even as it tries to maintain academic strength.

Some of the ideas would be radical changes and are sure to be controversial as they are debated in the months ahead, officials said.

“Some recommendations you may like a lot. Some you may think are terrible. But that’s OK. They are important ideas to put forward,” UC regents Chairman Russell S. Gould said at the meeting.

Among the proposals from the commission’s five subcommittees are:

Encouraging some students to complete their bachelor’s degrees in three years through extra summer sessions and reducing some requirements; doubling the number of out-of-state students, who now make up about 5% of undergraduates and who pay much higher fees than in-state students; charging higher fees for the most popular campuses, including UC Berkeley and UCLA; and sharply expanding the number of online courses for undergraduates.

Any such changes will not be adopted quickly. The regents and the UC Faculty Senate will consider the proposals this summer and beyond, officials said. And state legislative approval may be needed in some instances too.

Gould established the commission last summer and appointed its 26 members, who include UC administrators, faculty and students as well as business and labor leaders. He said the university must help itself out of its current financial dilemma caused by cuts in state funding and should not rely just on student fee increases and staff pay cuts.

-- Larry Gordon, reporting from San Francisco