UC has ‘secret’ $175 million in reserve while hiking up your tuition
‘I’ve never had a situation like that in my 17 years as state auditor’
This year the UC system is planning on raising tuition yet again, which is raising eyebrows and outrage after a secret $175 million was found after an audit.
In the state audit released Tuesday, April 25 it accused the UC’s Office of the President for practicing misleading budgeting schemes, including overpaying managers and administrative officials, demanding bigger budgets, overpricing budgets for projects, overcharging the 10 UC campuses, and interfering in auditors’ efforts. The audit report stated that, “in effect, the Office of the President received more funds than it needed each year, and it amassed millions of dollars in reserves that it spent with little or no oversight.”
According to state auditor Elaine Howle, “Why did we need to increase tuition if the Office of the President has $175 million in reserve that nobody knew about?”
In a statement released by Howle, the audit was so striking that, “I’ve never had a situation like that in my 17 years as state auditor.”
In response to the seething accusations, UC President Janet Napolitano denied the claim, stating that, “the report fundamentally and unfairly mischaracterizes UCOP’s budget processes and practices.”
In a statement released by Napolitano’s office, “The true amount is $38 million, which is roughly 10 percent of (the office’s) operating and administrative budget, a prudent and reasonable amount for unexpected expenses,”
It continues with, “most of the $175 million identified is already committed to university initiatives, ranging from improving its cybersecurity and addressing global hunger to research grants and an academic program for students in Washington, D.C.”
Why the UC system is contributing money to “global hunger” when over one in five UC students struggle with hunger and providing for themselves, I have no idea.
However, according to Napolitano, the majority of the only is for specific research related grants at various campuses, meaning she cannot spend it for any other purpose outside of its designated areas. And while the audit seems to imply that the money is either being hoarded or misused, Napolitano argues that it is indeed going directly to student services such as the UCDC programs, assistance to undocumented students, efforts to prevent sexual violence and harassment, and reducing the UC’s carbon footprint.
According to the audit, there was considerable doubt on “whether [the UC System] will make a genuine effort to change,” a concern echoed by students and faculty who are concerned with the educations system seeming transformation into a corporate entity, especially since a considerable amount of the $175 million went towards overpaying administrators and the destination of the rest of the money is questionable.
However, according to the LA Times Editorial Board, “it’s naïve to read the audit without also considering the troubling political backdrop. This is the eighth audit of UC in just a few years, urged on by legislators who have their own vision of UC’s mission and their own political agendas.”
The only thing stopping the California legislative government from having more control over the UC system is the California Constitution, which grants the UC system autonomy and puts the power into the hands of the regents.
The Board continues with, “politicians make notoriously lousy educators, and their handling of the state’s public schools should give no one any confidence in their ability to run one of the world’s great universities. The audit’s call for a tighter leash on UC’s operations seems unfounded at this point.”
At this point and time, the tuition increase of 2.5 percent is still in place.