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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Charlie Schartz, "Do Public Colleges Rip Off Students?"

Charlie Schwartz, as our readers will know, has an important blog on campus finances at http://universityprobe.org/, where he's been tracking and investigating how money is spent at UC. He has a new piece summarizing his findings on The Daily Beast, which is Tina Brown's new online journalistic venture.


Gerry Barnett said...

I'm not persuaded that one can argue both that (a) the public numbers indicate that students are paying all the cost of their education and (b) we don't have good public numbers.

Financial transparency is a piece of accountability, but stupid accountability is no good thing. The bozonet simply adds more administrative positions for compliance policy, compliance training (with an on-line option!--so, compliance web services, compliance portal design, compliance server backups, compliance on-line services integration, compliance services integration help desk, compliance services planning and update reporting from the ad hoc compliance services update and planning coordinating committee),compliance risk management, compliance federal and state relations, general compliance administration, compliance oversight of compliance administration, compliance reporting, and compliance public outreach. I don't think Charlie Schwartz would like this, but who could prevent this cascade once it's triggered?

The "easy way" for the Regents is to argue, private school tuition is around $37K and public tuition is about $8K, so what's the big deal in taking it to, say, $16K? That only cuts out a slice of the unwashed and uninteresting middle class, who can be content with a Cal State education, but at the old UC prices (which they would have paid, you know), and perhaps, in reality, is just as good an education....

This way, the Regents don't have to deal with the bozonet response to transparency or the divisive and likely embarrassing discussion of relative value of departments and centers and salaries. Further, UC comes free of state funding politics and uncertainties. More so, the Regents sidestep storms of bitterness as evidenced in Scull's letter (pitting departments and campuses) or Schwartz's analysis (pitting faculty and administrative roles and pay). They also don't have to admit they've misled anyone with regard to quality or mismanaged any system or staffing decisions. They also mitigate a faculty-led attack on student experience (furlough during instruction--totally rational, IMHO, but devastating to the faculty position over all). All this for a money hit on some middle class students and their families that won't affect UC in any rankings of reputation and quality. Makes the admin look pretty sane.

The admin will use extreme positions to play moderator. This is what admin does best--keeping things mostly the same. This is also the role of politics--playing for winning opinion where reliable expertise and information are too difficult to come by. So without a "sane" alternative, they will choose one that appears so and stick to it.

Anonymous said...

YES they do! An example. UCB Chancellor Birgeneau hires $3 million consultants to do the work of his job and work that can be accomplished by the UCB professional world-class faculty and staff.

Spineless UCOP leadership does nothing to save $3,000,000 for students and classes

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