Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Simple Recipe for Keeping the University of California Solvent

We can't let Jerry Brown kill the state's "Golden Goose".   California's edge has been the synergy between its great quality of life and its UC educational system.   The state accepts talented people into this system (selection) and gives them a good education and then they remain here.  This increases the "stock of human capital" located within the state.

So, what is to be done?  As I've blogged before, here is the magic plan;

Step #1:  At the leading UC campuses, 40% of students will be from out of state and they will pay the average Ivy League Tuition - 20%.     To suburban parents in the Northeast and the fancy cities in China, this will look like a bargain.     The UC Campuses I know (such as the one in Berkeley and my campus) are comparable to most of  the Ivy League Schools.  I know this.  I have taught at two of them and I taught at Stanford for a year.   We need to stop giving education away for "free". If Californians won't pay market prices for our services then we should sell to those who will.  That's a market!  It doesn't matter that "UCLA was "free" in 1960".  We can't go back to that time. The right question is; "What does Columbia charge in 2011?"  That's what sets the market price.

While UCLA has many wonderful students, my classroom experience would be improved if the lower left tail of 40% were replaced by national and international students.  The classroom would be more competitive (and intellectually diverse) with more stars in the room and I would invest more in my teaching because I would know that the class is ready to make real progress on tough questions.  I want the "best and the brightest" in the room and a national admissions strategy would achieve this.  Note that 60% of students are still from California under my plan. Given that California is roughly 10% of the nation's population, my plan still vastly favors Californians.

Step #2:  We need a full audit of the UC President's office.  What does every person in Oakland, who works for UCOP, do all day long? I would think that President Yudoff would need a team of 10 people there with him but I have been told that there are 1000 people working away in Oakland.  What do they do all day long?  In my model of UC governance, the President makes a financial distribution decision to each of the 10 campuses and then under this decentralized plan ---- the President allows the individual campuses to do what they want to do.  We celebrate diversity but it appears that there is the belief that each of the campuses is a clone of each other. This is not the case. Let's celebrate the differences across the campuses and act accordingly.  The President's office should focus its efforts on lobbying Sacramento.  Besides for that, I can't figure out what it actually does.

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