UCLA Protests and the Deterioration of Higher Education

| 11/20/2009 10:42:46 AM


Listen to the latest episode of the UtneCast:
David Kirp on the deterioration of higher education.

The University of California erupted in protest this week after its Board of Regents announced that student fees—the University’s equivalent of tuition—would be raised by 32 percent. Hundreds of students protested the fee hikes, according to the New York Times, some barricading themselves in university buildings, setting up tent cities on campus, and 12 UCLA students have been arrested.

The University of California’s move is simply the latest in a long-standing trend of disinvestment in higher education. For the latest episode of the UtneCast, I spoke with David Kirp, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and the author of the book Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education, to talk about how the compact between universities and state governments has broken down. The current recession is making the situation worse, but there is no guarantee that higher education will improve with the economy. In fact, the United States is in danger of losing the “education for all” philosophy that may be the most important economic driver in the world economy.

You can listen to that interview above, or subscribe to the UtneCast on iTunes.

Image by Chris Radcliff, licensed under Creative Commons.

Scott Nass, MD
11/22/2009 4:25:23 PM

(continued) What the UC fee hike does is expand the disparity that already exists when personal finances must cover the growing gap between available public funding and the cost of maintaining service standards. State or local fee hikes would be less of a concern if, for example, the federal Stafford loan program had increased the amount that borrowers can access even one time since the 1970s. The issues surrounding the UC fee hikes clearly extend well beyond keeping public education accessible. And as long as greater social injustices exist to prevent Californians from joining the ranks of the relatively elite few who can even hope to access a UC education, then demonstrations like those in the video above only distract from true injustice. Westwood, home to UCLA, is nestled comfortably between Bel Air and Beverly Hills. I would encourage anyone who takes offense to the UC fee hike to channel their energies toward a community that suffers from a dearth of higher education opportunities and access to healthcare, among other social ills - try East or South Los Angeles, for example. The world economy can only be drive if there are healthy, educated folks of all stripes to do the driving. Let’s stop being elitist and instead focus our energies where they will facilitate the greatest benefit to society.

Scott Nass, MD
11/22/2009 4:23:18 PM

As a family physician serving the under- and uninsured, I feel the need to point out that the state of California has made egregious cuts on a number of fronts, only one of which is higher education. I am fighting to keep my patients alive, while they are fighting to maintain three jobs to keep their families fed. Their children are suffering in underfunded public schools and will be lucky to reach high school at all, let alone high school graduation. The University of California system serves the intellectual elite. At UCLA specifically, undergraduate applicants are rarely admitted with a GPA of less than 4.0 (with an average GPA at matriculation of OVER 4.0), and graduate and professional programs have equally stringent admission requirements. (I should know: I am a recent UCLA School of Medicine graduate.) Because competition for entrance into the top-tier UC schools is so cut-throat, the system stands as stark exception to the public "education for all" philosophy noted above. Post-secondary education in California has long operated on a tiered system, with California State University (CSU) schools taking second to UC schools, and the myriad junior/community colleges trailing behind.

Facebook Instagram Twitter