How UC Privatization Intensifies Class & Race Inequalities

In recent years, state allocations to the University of California have been cut severely, while the UC Regents have pursued an agenda of privatization. UC Administrators have raised student fees, have imposed layoffs and work speedups on employees, and have attempted to fundamentally reimagine higher education as a private investment rather than a public good. In doing so, this flier argues, they’ve made the UC system into an engine of inequality, despite their insistence that privatization is not only compatible with, but actually conducive to, increased equity and diversity.

Why financial aid doesn’t overcome class inequities:
* While financial aid does make a UC degree more affordable for relatively low-income students, the Blue and Gold plan doesn’t cover room and board, meaning that students receiving aid often still have to take out loans or work multiple jobs to finance their education. * More importantly, UC campuses appear to weight their admissions decisions based on the family income of applicants. At UC Berkeley, class-based inequities in admission rates have grown over the last ten years, as shown in the chart below. * The decline in admission rates for relatively lowincome students is making the campus increasingly unrepresentative of the state. While approximately 80% of California children now live in families earning under 80k/year, over 40% of UC Berkeley students come from families earning over 100k/year. * The new “Middle Class Access Plan” (MCAP) at UC Berkeley could slow the decline of middle-class enrollees, and will offset for them the cost of fee hikes. However, according to an analysis by Zach Williams, the MCAP will primarily support out of state students -- whose enrollment rates are rising -- including those with family incomes as high as $140k/year.1

Berkeley Incoming Enrollees by Class
80k and Above vs. Below 80k

Berkeley Admission 1995 Rates by Income

1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 Admit rate Admit rate Admit rate Admit rate Admit rate Admit rate Admit rate Admit rate Total 39.9 33.0 29.5 28.2 25.4 28.0 24.8 23.7 Less than $40,000 36.6 30.9 29.2 27.9 23.0 25.1 21.3 18.1 $40,000 - $79,999 38.9 30.0 26.8 26.6 23.1 25.1 22.5 21.2 $80,000 - $119,999 41.0 33.1 28.0 26.9 25.4 28.6 24.7 25.0 $120,000 and above 43.2 36.2 30.5 27.9 27.2 28.4 25.6 26.9 Unknown - Missing 43.1 38.9 33.2 31.3 28.5 32.6 29.9 29.9
Chart composed by Zachary Williams and Amanda Armstrong, Feb. 6, 2012. Data found on UC Statfinder.

1 Graph composed by Zachary Chance Gill Williams, February 5, 2012.

The stratification of the UC system:
* In July 2011, the State Auditor released a report showing that the Office of the President (UCOP) distributes less money per student to UC campuses with higher rates of Black and Latina/o student enrollment (UCR, UCM, UCSB, and UCSC). * UC officials have not only admitted this resource inequity but have defended it: the Office of the President “stated [to the state’s audit team] that the university does not wish to jeopardize the achievements of the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses by shifting funds away to other campuses in an effort to provide an equal amount of the general funds and tuition budget per student” (36). As Christopher Newfield notes, UCOP thus defines its job as protecting UC stratification rather than correcting it.2

Riverside Incoming Enrollees by Class
80k and Above vs. Below 80k


The Master Plan in reverse:
* In a recent essay, Bob Meister has shown how UC privatization reverberates throughout the entire educational system in California, resulting in the expansion of for-profit universities and the further indebting of low-income and minority students:
As tuition rises, students eligible for UC transfer down to get cheaper credits and degrees in the CSU system, which has turned away in recent years more than 40,000 eligible California students as of two years ago. This affects the California Community Colleges (CCCs), where a recent study shows that an increasing number of degree-seeking students, including 19 percent of blacks and 16 percent of Latinos, will eventually transfer to a for-profit that does not require them to have transferrable credits, or even a high school diploma. After six years, 70 percent of degree-seeking community college students will have dropped out and only 15 percent will have fulfilled the “Master Plan Intent” of completing the first two years of the requirements for a bachelor’s degree at UC or California State University (CSU) .... Higher prices at UC have thus produced enrollment bottlenecks at the CCC level, where according to a new survey one-third of all students could not get into the courses they needed as compared to one-sixth nationally who face the same problem. Jobless, low-income students, no longer well served by community colleges, find places in federally financed for-profit schools that expand to meet demand and allow them to live on credit and student grants for as long as they are willing to borrow for tuition. In sum, the California Master Plan for Higher Education is now operating in reverse. Higher prices at UC have produced a downward cascade of enrollments within the public system .... The effect of growing debt-aversion at the top is that students with fewer choices at the bottom end up with a large amount of debt and a low likelihood of being able to repay it.
Bob Meister, “Debt and Taxes: Can the Financial Industry Save Public Universities,” Representations Vol. 116, No. 1 (Fall 2011), pp. 141-2.

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