uc_color_logo.jpgA commission that’s developing a new vision for the 10-campus University of California system issued a final report on Monday that calls for increasing the number of out-of-state students and having students graduate more quickly.

The UC Commission on the Future also called for strengthening the university’s research infrastructure and graduate student involvement, getting more money from federal grants and contracts, and revamping fundraising efforts to bring in more money from private foundations.

Bringing in those additional federal dollars and private funds could mean several hundred million dollars more annually for the UC system, the report stated.

UC Provost Lawrence Pitts told reporters in a conference call that some of the initiatives that are endorsed by the commission are already under way, such as developing an online education pilot project and streamlining the process for California community college students to transfer to UC.

The university has also started an efficiency program aimed at streamlining, consolidating and standardizing operations across UC’s 10 campuses to avoid duplication of student services and other administrative functions.

UC President Mark Yudof said the university has already achieved $100 million in savings from its cost-cutting efforts in the past year and the report has a goal of achieving $500 million a year in cost savings five years from now.

The money that is saved will be used to support core academic and research activities, according to the report.

The commission issued 20 recommendations in five broad categories: teaching and curriculum, undergraduate enrollment and access, research and graduate education, fiscal discipline and administrative reform, and public education and advocacy.

Its report will be presented to UC Regents at a special meeting on Dec. 13.

The 27-member commission was created in July 2009 by Board of Regents Chairman Russell Gould, with Yudof serving as its co-chair.

Pitts said UC “wants to achieve some efficiencies” by increasing the number of undergraduate students who graduate in three years by taking summer classes or taking some college classes while they are still in high school.

Having more community college students transfer to the UC system won’t necessarily bring in more revenue but it will create efficiencies by having students graduate more quickly, Pitts said.

He said that increasing the percentage of out-of-state students, who pay a higher tuition than California students, will bring in more money but also provide an academic benefit by providing “cultural and sectional diversity.”

However, Pitts said UC doesn’t want to push out qualified California high school students who may not be able to afford the university without financial assistance.

“We won’t start displacing unfunded students,” he said.

Gould said the commission also studied contingency actions that might be needed if the university system’s financial situation worsens.

Among those possibilities are reducing the number of students and faculty members, cutting back financial aid and charging varying tuition fees at different campuses. But the commission isn’t yet endorsing any of those ideas, Gould said.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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