A small article in the SF Chronicle today gives the report of the court rulings in 2006 and 2010 that awarded 40,000 University of California students hundreds and thousands of dollars for a grand total of $91 million cost to the University. This week, there have been serious controversy about the fact that the University took that loss and placed it in a $60 fee that started in 2007 and will continue until 2018 to be paid by the current students.
Tuition increases brought University to court.
The tuition and fee costs for California residents entering as University of California undergraduates is $13,200. In comparison, in 2003, tuition and fees were $5200. For the University of California graduate schools, for example Berkeley School of Law and the school of medicine, the tuition and fees amount to $72,912 which includes the $35,164 required Professional Degree fee. In 2003, the required Professional Degree fee was $4737. Some of the students took the University of California to court over the fee increase and won in court in 2006.
California residents with incomes of less than $80,000 income are qualified for grants and loans for tuition. Even so, as the tuition and fees have increased, there has been less diversity in the student body, and evidence that the university is becoming inaccessible to many students because of school costs. For those who get in and stay in, there is also serious concern for the mounting debt many students face upon graduation before they have their first job.
How is it for students today?
Having graduated from Berkeley, I enjoy the privilege of taking any class with the permission of the professors, and so being in a Philosophy class on Heidegger these past weeks gives a perspective on what is happening for the students relative to the question of costs to the students. The hundreds of students in Sproul Hall plaza going to class looks the same. The tables that line the plaza with different groups supporting efforts and interests relative to students are toned down and don't interrupt the flow as you pass to the arches before the Campanil and surrounding classrooms. In class, what is apparent is the serious nature of the work for the students. Recently, Professor Robert Reich was quoted as saying that though he teaches at Harvard as well as Berkeley, but he prefers Berkeley. Because the Berkeley students come from up and down the social economic stratum of society. Through pursuing their education in the academic inquiry that Berkeley provides, many will change their station in life, the options they have and the possibilities that will be there for them for the duration of their lives.
The JCrew attire associated with young people of college age is nowhere to be seen. Casual doesn't describe it, it's not indifference in apparel or demeanor, but thongs, shapeless blouses/jackets over shapeless pants or shorts convey a comfort with themselves. They come into the class room, take a seat and go to their iphone or ipads in the stone quiet of the room not relating with each other until the Professor comes in.
What do you get from the University classroom?
The engagement from the class participants to the professor in this class with Professor Bert Dreyfus on Heidegger is taken seriously by all. It reminds me of what I found good about my undergraduate study at Berkeley. That is, that answers are not handed out, just better and better questions. These students have questions that come from a place of genuine curiosity and challenge prompting the professors to say, more than once, - "That is a good question. Let me think about that." The significance of that for me is that easy rhetoric and memorizations just don't cut it. The professors who wrote the books or have made a contribution in their field are as interested in the questions brought up that open the field of inquiry and expand the possible knowledge available on the subject is where they come from. That is who teaches at Berkeley. And they are well paid and rarely is there uproar or controversy about that.
How does the University of California measure up?
The days of tuition free or little tuition at Berkeley and other University of California colleges were part of the wonder and charm of life in California in the 50's-80's. The quality of education remains and continues to be a significant asset to the state and to the nation. The many students from all over the world who take back more than a degree. They take back the experience of being included in the life at the University of California. Potentially they bring more understanding and experience of this country to their own country. The University of California produces the next generation of entrepreneurs is one of the facts attributed to the university in recent studies. Above all, UC students leave the university with a world view that encourages finding and taking a part in the work and world that awaits them.