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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Is This What President Napolitano Meant by Teaching For California?

UC released its 2014 admission figures recently to significant controversy.  As both Cloudminder and Bob Samuels have pointed out, the figures raise important questions about the impact of the increasingly frenetic search for non-resident tuition.  It has become harder for California residents to get into UC. In addition, as Bob argues, since it is the wealthiest campuses who are admitting the greatest number of non-residents, the system tends to move California residents to those campuses with the least resources.  This structure both reinforces inequality within UC (between campuses) and also means that many resident students will be receiving less in the material and educational support that underlies high-quality education.

UC has for years funneled students who might want to go to the richer campuses to the less wealthy.  But in the past, that hasn't been because the wealthier campuses were being filled on the basis of who could pay the most.  It is a perverse situation at best.

The situation is not at its best. If you look at UC's admission statistics, it is striking that although UC admitted 6,576 more students in 2014 than in 2012 there were 243 fewer California residents (although there were slightly more than in 2013).  To offer a longer perspective, in 2009, UC received 126, 701 applications and admitted 66, 265 students, 58, 631 of them California residents.  California residents had an acceptance rate of 72%.  In 2014, UC received 148, 688 applications, admitted 86,865 of whom 61, 120 were California residents with an acceptance rate of 61.2%.  Put another way, although UC admitted 20,600 more students in 2014 than in 2009, only 2,489 were California residents and it was significantly harder for a California resident to be admitted in 2014 than in 2009.  In a striking refutation of George Breslauer and Carla Hesse's ideological fantasy that "a dollar is just a dollar," Berkeley admitted roughly 1000 fewer California residents than it did in 2012.  I understand that the expected yield on NRT acceptances is lower than on California residents.  But even so there can be no question that UC is increasingly not "teaching for California."

UC administrators, to be sure, will argue that these changes are necessary given the dramatic underfunding by the State.  There can be no question that the state has insisted on serious and highly damaging cuts over the last decade.  And I recognize the budgetary logic of this move to NRT.  But its wisdom is something else.

For one thing, it is important to disentangle UC's rhetoric from reality.  When UC discusses the economics of this situation it tends to emphasize gross revenues.  But that is a distortion of the situation.  For one thing it ignores the increased costs--especially concerning international students.  As a result, the actual net revenues are much lower (there have been estimates around $10,000 net, taking into account the state contribution and increased costs).  In fact, back when the decision was made to keep NRT revenues on the campuses that produced them, the argument was made that this was necessary because of the increased costs that accompanied those students.  I don't agree with Brad DeLong's account of the policy, but he is correct that the presence of NRT students will draw resources towards them

But there is a deeper level of confusion involved.  Proponents of NRT point to the increased revenue that out of state and international students bring to the university during their years of enrollment.  But to put it simply in these terms ignores the extent to which California residents and their families as taxpayers contribute to the university even in years when they are not enrolled.   Again, I recognize the defunding (we have been posting on it for years).  But we need to recognize that as a matter of equity Californians are asked to support the university system even when they are not enrolled.  It does not seem too much to ask that the university and Sacramento seek a way to meet that support without funneling California residents to less wealthy campuses because of the short-term support of out of state residents.  Producing inequality is not a winning long-term strategy for the University--at least if it expects to continue to receive support from Californians.

What then might UC do to look toward a better alternative path?

The first thing is to break with the habit of praising UC administrators for "making hard choices."  This has been the rhetorical tack beginning with the Gould Commission and continuing on through the fever of UC Online.  But in reality the "hard choices" of UC's administration have always been hard on other people: students, California residents, staff and to some extent faculty.  This practice is clear in the rhetoric of UCOP and the Chancellors in promoting NRT as a viable way to respond to the collapse of the old funding model.  The emphasis has always been on finding ways to cut the costs of instruction.  But given the rise in non-tenure track faculty, those costs have been being cut for a good many years.

How then might we begin a real conversation on the future of the public research university?  The following chart, courtesy of the AAUP, gives an indication:

As we are reminded here, despite all of the rhetoric about the "cost disease" associated with teaching, universities and colleges have been engaged for decades in shifting their hiring from full-time tenure track faculty to part-time and full-time non-tenure track faculty.  Just as striking is the documentation of the extraordinary growth of what the AAUP calles "full-time nonfaculty professional."  The AAUP indicates a category "that includes buyers and purchasing agents; human resources, training, and labor relations specialists, management analysts; loan counselors; lawyers; and other nonacademic workers." Perhaps even more telling (given that it is not clear how many of these positions are filled by IT or student support personnel) is that according to at least one leading survey of administrative positions, since the late 1970s the number of administrative job titles has grown by 139% and the percentage of academic dean titles has dropped from 38 to 21%. (8)

To be sure, these categories are imprecise.  But that is part of the problem.  Despite the heroic efforts of Charlie Schwartz, we simply don't know the actual number of people in particular jobs on the different campuses, how many of them work directly in instructional or research support capacities, how many are front-line student services etc.  And the reason we don't know that is because UC's personnel systems are not set up to make that clear.

So if we really want to start thinking about how to maintain a public research university at UC, the first thing necessary is not a dramatic increase in NRT,  but a comprehensive, system-wide and campus-based assessment of administrative costs and benefits.  If UC wants to make "hard choices" they cannot be choices about administrative growth as usual while everyone else is facing increasing demands and students are paying more for less.  The real future lies in doubling down on our core mission of teaching and research and demonstrating to the state and to the public that we are driven by that and not by the search for rankings to recruit students from elsewhere.  It might even increase the quality of the education we offer.


Anonymous said...

UC has not reduced ladder faculty in favor of part time faculty, despite the budget cuts -- UC is still about 80 percent ladder faculty (not including health sciences), unlike the rest of the country. And the budget cuts did fall heavily on the administrative side at UC -- UC is woefully understaffed to the extent that faculty are now doing lots of administrative work. So not sure what you are suggesting -- that UC could give up millions in NRT by laying off even more employees?

Michael Meranze said...


Anonymous thanks for the question but I am not sure about your figures. If you look at the data UCOP it self provides at http://legacy-its.ucop.edu/uwnews/stat/

You will see that in October 2013 there were more SMG/MSP in system (9859.05 FTE) than there were in say 2008 (8230.18) whereas there are less full-time faculty (8673.45 FTE) than there were in 2008 (8799.47 FTE). In fact I think that October 2011 was the first time that they listed there being more FTE in the SMG/MSP group than in the full-time faculty group. In addition there has been a shift towards a greater use of lecturers again in FTE 1887.28 to 2049.21. And FTE doesn't really get at the question of full-time vs. part-time which is so important with lecturers. There are also the "other faculty" category which while i suspect you are right is mostly about the medical centers is not entirely about the medical centers.

I also think that we need to differentiate between different types of administrative things that faculty are doing and different types of staff cuts. My sense is that it is mostly departmental or other front line staff that has taken the biggest hits. But again the point in my piece was that we need to have a lot more transparency about these issues so that we can have a serious discussion of the best way to organize the university.

Anonymous said...

What is the status of the efforts towards "Rebenching" state funds so that they are more equitably distributed between the have and have-not campuses? I would like to see this taken up given this recent debate on the new admission figures.

Michael Meranze said...


To be honest, I am not sure where it is in terms of implementation. Perhaps someone from the Senate might be able to give an indication.

Susan said...

The re benching process was designed so that no one lost state funds, but the campuses that got smaller per student allocations would gradually be brought up to the higher level with new state dollars.

It seems to me that one very simple way to calm the NRT frenzy would be to sift the funding streams tax on NRT, so that (say) 50% of NRT when to the campuses that educated Californians. Of course, when I sat on BOARS, we were assured that non-residents would not take funded places from Californians. During the recession, many campuses increased enrollments of state students because some tuition was better than none. But those students had no state enrollment support. So the claim that campuses are not limiting state funded enrollments is true, but disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

I think there are many debatable points in this post but the one that is most troublesome is the view that international students' only value is financial. International students bring an enormously important set of perspectives to our campuses, and if the belief in the value of diversity in education has any real meaning, our move to increase international students--even if driven largely or wholly by financial considerations--has dramatically added to the diversity of our campuses. And of course if compared to our peers, whether public or private, we are way behind the curve on this. Given that the state puts in so little money to the major UC campuses now, to my mind the number of foreign students at UC is still far from posing a threat or being in anyway out of balance with the "pact" with the people of California. But the main point is that this growth is a positive, and we should be doing much more of it.

Anonymous said...

"But the main point is that this growth is a positive, and we should be doing much more of it."

Engineering admits at UCB this year were 40% international students. As that number continues to grow and cross 50% or more at what point do the voters/taxpayers check-out and let the state completely defund UC? Why should Californians support a system which is on a trajectory to not admit California students?

Anonymous said...

That's an empirical question but overall, even at Cal and UCLA, international/out of state students remain a small percentage, in particular if you compare the percentage of such students to public peers like UVA and Michigan. And of course, Californians are not really supporting the system anyway--they are reducing their support as fast as they can. If the state really wants us to "teach for CA", it can be bring back the level of funding that allowed us to do that. But even then, I personally wouldnt favor a reduction in the number of foreign students because the pedagogical value is so high.

TB said...

Anonymous @10:52: I think you are twisting the chicken and egg problem in the same dishonest way our legislature does. I would posit that we need to enroll more NRT students precisely because Californians (via their representatives) have already decided to drastically limit their support of the system. Then again, I have been already advocating a system where we simply educate the best of our applicants regardless of their state/national status while the state directly supports those of them who happen to be from CA, if it feels so inclined. Considering the dysfunctional state of our "marriage" to the state, a divorce would be a better and far cleaner option.

To Susan: "During the recession, many campuses increased enrollments of state students because some tuition was better than none." This strikes me as a very myopic approach. Some tuition is better than none *only if* it covers the extra cost. While the extra cost might stay hidden for a while (a bigger class sizes etc.), this is definitely not a basis for sound economic policy.

Anonymous said...

Well I guess I now agree. Get rid of state support, and the illusion that this is the University of "California". Have California students (mostly) go someplace else, bring in the best students the world has to offer, and charge whatever the market can bear. It will build a financially healthier and more diverse university.

Bob Samuels said...

Very disturbing comments. I hope this is just a minority view. UC has been built out of state funds. Yes we would like to get more funding, but we are seeing four years of increases, and CAL Grants have topped $700 million, so the state is spending at least $3.6 billion this year, which is still a large part of the core budget. So according to some of the comments above, our new mission is to educate the wealthy from other states and countries, and reduce the education level of people in our own state? If we want the state and the public to increase their support for the UC, like they did with Prop 30, then we cannot continue to exclude the children of the taxpayers. It is comments like this which really turn off our potential political allies.

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate. Whether or not the views in these comments are "minority" views or not, it is worth remembering that there IS a Cal State system. If we want to add 10 campuses to Cal State, we should stay the course. If we don't, we have to change.

Anonymous said...

Responding to Bob S, I think UC wants it both ways: all the tax dollars ("Educating California"!) AND as much NRT as possible. But at some point rhetoric collides with reality. Like when UCB School of Engineering is 40% international admits. That's starting to move away from "Educating California" in my view.

Here is a question for everyone: what are your % admits of internationals, and non-CA residents? I am in an engineering department (but not UCB) and our % non-resident admits for this fall is 31%, specifically 20% international and 11% US non-Californians.

Are the high % of international students skewed towards engineering and physical sciences?
What about Social Sciences and Humanities? Are they seeing large numbers of international admits?

Anonymous said...

Word may be spreading to the ranks of anxious CA parents about the diminishing prospects for their kids to get into UC. Check this rant by a parent in my local paper:


She is upset by both the internationals and by some re-benching (?) of how an applicant's high school is viewed.

I guess though if we move to a fully realized "UC for the world" model it won't matter if the locals are upset....

Anonymous said...

Basically, the admission of Californians has stayed the same in terms of raw numbers, save for a slight rollback that reflects retreat on a strategy of admitting unfunded students to try to goad the state into funding them. The state refused. Its getting harder to get in b/c the # of California applicants is increasing but the Legislature will not increase the size of the UC to accomodate them, save for the growth in Merced, which is insufficient - and of course, not the preferred school of most applicants.

Complaints about out-of-state/foreign students is a red herring. It is not taking spaces away from Californians and is a predictable strategy when the state refuses to fund more Californians. Plus it has the beneficial effects described above.

Meranze's strategy is to complain that we have too many administrators - while quoting national data on admin increases - not UC data. I don't doubt that we have too many administrators and could shift some money to instruction if we fired them. But the benefits would be relatively small - a lot of that admin growth has been in development offices - which generate revenue that supports instruction and physical plant.

I do agree that there is a problem in asking Californians to support by tax a system that is harder to get into - but this has ALWAYS been the case. Californians have all been taxed for a system (the UCs) that educates a small percentage of their children. So its not a new problem, although it might become more pressing.

In sum: it IS getting harder for Californians to get into the UC; this is entirely due to the Legislature's decisions; Meranze suggests we react by firing administrators; UC suggests the path of admitting additional higher-paying students. While I would be happy to fire some administrators and replace them with ladder faculty, the path the UCs have followed makes a lot of sense.

Michael Meranze said...


Anonymous (I wish there was a better way to keep track of these comments!) a few points:

1) If you look back through the exchanges in the comments you will see that I am not simply citing national statistics but also point to more local UC statistics which show a large and continuing growth in the administrative apparatus.

2) I did not simply call for firing administrators in some general way. What I did suggest was that the NRT strategy both ran the risk of further alienating Californians AND enabled UC to avoid some hard questions about its purposes, the purposes of its administrative structures, what parts needed to be preserved and what parts needed to be cut, etc. The point is that things like UCOF focused primarily on reducing costs of instruction (except in its call for better indirect cost recovery which I know is a complicated issue for scientists) and that the staff cuts in my experience have been from those positions that actually help students and faculty most directly. Is that a good strategy? UC has been cutting instructional costs for years. Administrative costs not so much.

3) Discussing the NRT strategy is not a red herring and I don't think that we need to be lectured on the state funding cuts since Chris and I have been posting on it for years. But NRTs do pose a political and social problem, there is not the clear cut case that the dramatic expansion of NRT's provides the sort of pedagogical benefits that some comments have asserted--the pedagogy of it seems to me from my own experience more complicated than the cheer-leading would suggest, and it is most likely at best a short-term strategy given the funding being put into university systems across the world.

4) Whether we think it is fair or not the failure to really think through the administrative structure enables the LAO and others to complain that we are inefficient in our instruction of students because they include it in the cost of the average student. That is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in the different levels of NRTs in STEM vs humanities and soc sciences, because those very high numbers in engineering etc quoted above presumably won't be anywhere near that in any H/SS field. I for one would like to see more intl. students in UCs in humanities/SS, and I'd be curious to see what the numbers are there now.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Meranze calls the pedagogical benefits of foreign students "complicated." Yet the fundamental rationale for greater diversity in higher education--well accepted on this blog-- is no different with regard to foreign students than with regard to under-represented (local) minorities. Both provide differing viewpoints and experiences that enrich our classrooms and communities. That's a benefit over and above any financial gain by UC.

Michael Meranze said...

As i have indicated several times UC has enrolled international students for years in part for the perspective issues. And as i have also indicated several times, that is fine by me.

The issue here--although some seem to want to avoid it--is the large increase in those numbers and how we should think about it. For one thing, that massive increase has placed new demands on campus support systems and, from speaking with faculty at UCLA who are in fields that have drawn the largest numbers of international students, the rush in numbers has produced all sorts of new issues. So i don't think that the "more international students=better" really holds.

Second, as you probably know, the issue of perspective is only one of the reasons for expanded URM enrollments. The other has to do with ensuring a social good and greater equity in society.

But as i keep pointing out, even if you like the NRT increase, as a matter of a sustainable system it is a band-aid. UC is unique in the fact that all of its campuses have been major and important research institutions. The comparisons that have been made to Michigan or Virginia or Wisconsin ignore the tremendous inequalities between campuses in those states. That there are resource inequalities in UC is true, but nothing like the other places. If we want to preserve the system we need to do better than a short-term solution like NRT. Having gotten my degree at one campus and taught at 2 others i think the system should be preserved. But it will take a much more serious re-think about purpose than we have seen or that has been on offer so far.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting this discussion.
The question I wish to raise now is this: IS admitting international students the way we are doing it now actually increasing diversity?
I apologize for picking on UCB College of Engineering but I know some facts about their situation. As is well known Schools of Eng are still heavily male, and probably lag behind all other campus areas in achieving gender equity. A prof in UCB Engineering told me that as they have admitted more internationals the % of women has gone down....they are making gender equity worse.

Also, and I realize this may be a sensitive subject - how many of the Engineering foreign admits are from Sudan, Finland , Chile, or Pakistan compared to the number from China? I am not sure UC would ever release the data but in my school of ENG (which is not UCB) the heavy tilt amongst internationals is towards Chinese students.
A UC student body which overall is populated by Asian-Americans out of proportion to the state population is now admitting large numbers of Asian-Asians. As we know the state legislature is starting to see infighting amongst Democrats on the issue of affirmative action in admissions....how will the large increase in internationals play out politically given that Latina/os and African-Americans, very justifiably, seek greater enrollment numbers?

I apologize in advance for advance for raising these subjects and for any offense caused. But I still think the international admits are a time bomb of negative publicity waiting to blow up on UC, especially if the legislature seizes on the issue.

Anonymous said...

Another data point… my department (in the physical sciences) has been flooded with NRT students. We went up about 40% in Student FTE from NRT and the popularity/reputation of our department.

None of the additional funds, not one cent, from NRT has trickled down to us. And so we just have huge (60 person) discussion sections, labs at all hours of the day, more temporary lecturers (usually advanced grad students, recent PhDs).

The education of all students in our department has suffered due to the influx of NRT and the commensurate funding increase to get resources to deal with the influx.

The deeper core issue: our Dean and those above see no upside in improving the educational experience for our undergrads. So we are in a downward spiral.

Anonymous said...

Our campus is showing a large increase in student numbers, especially physical sciences, without any increase in faculty or lecturers and only modest increase in TAs. As noted above class sizes get much larger (50% in two years), labs and discussions are scheduled at crazy times, and resources (computer labs, wet labs) are overwhelmed. The campus leadership's response to all this? They are embarked on a campaign to overhaul student advising, which in my college is excellent and needs no overhaul. Even if it did improving advising is a smoke-screen to distract from the real issue: an overwhelmed undergraduate instructional system that is providing a cattle herd educational experience for our students. And soon our first 1000 seat lecture hall will open....

Anonymous said...

I made the 10:29 comment… meant to say `and the *absence* of commensurate funding increase to get resources to deal with the influx.'

Our administration has no clue whatsoever how to actually do *better* in teaching. No Dean is going to get promoted to Vice Chancellor, or Vice Chancellor to Chancellor, etc, if they solve any of the teaching issues their NRT students and others have created. They are just in a combination of head-in-sand or see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil denial.

Anonymous said...

Administration and Management are growing - I did ten years @ UCB and witnessed it. Unfortunately, the middle management bloat is not formed by the brightest and best; instead, this middle layer seems to be all "yes people" who solve problems by holding endless meetings where they form "policy" through the mistake of thinking precision is a good tool to achieve accuracy.

Chris Newfield said...

But OE's whole point was to eliminate unnecessary control points in the soggy middle and reward the staff's entrepreneurs :) it'd be interesting to hear any updates from the Senate's investigation of it this year

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