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University of California Considering Cuts to Grad Student Enrollment Just Weeks After Strike

University of California Considering Cuts to Grad Student Enrollment Just Weeks After Strike

“Just weeks after the University of California and academic workers heralded historic wage gains in new labor contracts, the question of how to pay for them is roiling campuses”

At the end of 2022, grad student workers at the University of California staged a strike that dragged on for weeks, bringing many campuses to a halt.

The strikers won in the end, getting many of their demands met, but now the school system faces another set of problems.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

To afford historic labor contract, UC considers cutting TAs, graduate student admissions

Just weeks after the University of California and academic workers heralded historic wage gains in new labor contracts, the question of how to pay for them is roiling campuses, which are scrambling to identify money, considering cutbacks in graduate student admissions and fearing deficits.

The full financial cost of the labor settlements between UC and 48,000 academic workers who help power the vaunted teaching and research engine are still being tallied. But preliminary estimates have dealt a “financial shock to the system,” said Rosemarie Rae, UC Berkeley chief financial officer.

The UC Office of the President estimates that the increased costs for salary, benefits and tuition across all 10 campuses will be between $500 million and $570 million over the life of the contracts. Individual campuses have come up with their own calculations: At UC Santa Barbara, for instance, the Academic Senate chair estimated that the cost of pay hikes alone could spiral to more than $53 million over three years.

Overall, the costs take in pay increases of 20% to 80%, depending on the workers — teaching assistants, tutors, researchers and postdoctoral scholars — and are among the highest ever granted in the nation’s universities.

This is very similar to the problem California has with taxation. As they raise taxes, more and more taxpayers flee the state. What’s that old saying about running out of other people’s money?

The San Francisco Examiner has more on this:

According to the unions that championed the strike, UC plans to reduce graduate admissions next year by 33%.

Rafael Jaime, president of the UAW 2865 representing 19,000 teaching assistants, said his union circulated a survey of 89 departments across all 10 campuses after hearing of possible enrollment cuts from the department of feminist studies at UC Santa Barbara.

“Then we started hearing the same from other departments: the psychology department at UCLA, and then the physics department at UC San Diego. We sent out a survey (mid January) and received similar responses,” Jaime told the Examiner.

Jaime said there is no discernible trend of which departments are slashing their enrollment, but it appears “to be the departments that tend to have more constricted funding.”

Jaime and Neal Sweeney, president of UAW 5810, wrote a letter to University of California President Michael Drake on Jan. 26, stating, “Investing in full enrollment is essential to our state’s economic future as well. The state depends on the University of California to produce the highly–skilled Ph.D and masters degree recipients who are essential to its high-tech economy.”

Department heads also reported to the unions that they are being told to cut back on teaching assistant time and discussions, and to increase the number of students enrolled in discussion groups.

Both union presidents wrote to president Drake calling this “a matter of grave concern.”

What happens next? Another strike?

Featured image via YouTube.


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If education is all you’re after there are plenty of online schools. What your after is the connection to big government from the is school.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to 2smartforlibs. | January 31, 2023 at 4:23 pm

    2, I normally try to figure out typos and spell czech issues but… what’s “the is school”? Thanks

    artichoke in reply to 2smartforlibs. | January 31, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    Not really. Doctoral students in legit programs are already pretty strong performers, and they benefit from guidance by very accomplished and capable academics. This is not what University of Phoenix offers.

    But the model is “apprenticeship”. They pay you enough to be able to keep body and soul together, while you learn from masters of the academic trade. There’s an incentive to focus on your studies and finish as fast as possible, rather than spending time as labor organizers.

    If they want to be union workers, then they should just become professional TA’s or adjuncts and not aspire to the PhD.

“Minimum wage” goes scholastic. Cutting the number of job opportunities to fund the now smaller staff. How ungrateful for those that want more money when they have the privilege of attending school and living in the worker’s paradise.

    henrybowman in reply to alaskabob. | January 31, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    When I was a kid, we all instinctually understood that “the actual minimum wage is $0.”
    In today’s America, you have to be in a doctoral program before you learn that.

With regret, there are graduate programs that we don’t need.

Across the country, we have too many grad students in programs that can’t place their grads in ways that make use of their new degrees. Some right-sizing is required. Further, we have too many grad programs in some areas, period. How many English or history grad programs do we require? But just try convincing a university to close one down.

It will be the financial pressures like this that make it happen. And perhaps that’s just as it should be.

    CommoChief in reply to stevewhitemd. | January 31, 2023 at 2:16 pm

    The question is why don’t we need them. Anything above replacement rate of PHD faculty retirement seems wasted. Couple that with enrollment drops for several reasons, demographic declines, hostile campus atmosphere towards free speech, male students being demonized as predatory/patriarchal, rediscovered interest in trades and some just foregoing college.

    Many of these grad students are just extending adolescence and avoiding the real adult world of employment in favor of serial grad degrees. There’s only so many DEI coordinators and assistant to the deputy assist Dean of student life that can be funded. The administrative bloat in academia is huge.

    These near no show, no work jobs are coming to an end. Can’t demand fulltime salaries and benefits for what are designed as part time jobs to supplement grad students cost of attendance then expect the same numbers of positions to be retained. Even the leftist progressives understand there is an eventual limit in public funding. They will happily sacrifice some of these these positions and decrease student enrollment to keep their own phony baloney jobs at the upper tier.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to stevewhitemd. | January 31, 2023 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t know how to feel about this. What are these Gradual Students to the U, and the U to they (um, them, their, er zer, um zers, ah — xerces. They think they are god-kings.)

    What are they to their overlords: workers in the fodder-mills of “research” output, herders of the undergrad sheeple to be sheared, credential-seeker fodder to harvest themselves, co-profiteers in the university Keiretsu?

    What are they, and their extra-higher education to the rest of us: just another union, activists and operatives in The Righteous Cause, arms of the Govt in crafting a better people, fodder for economic policy — make more of those bigger engineers: we have a mercantilism to do.

    I was wrong. I do know how to feel. They are clowns who don’t know the deal they cut; or cut a con thinking they’d get away with it. Know the game you are playing. Well, they didn’t. This is what happens. When you don’t know the game you are actually in, this is a thing that happens.

    mbecker908 in reply to stevewhitemd. | January 31, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Cut off federal funding of grad school – Tilte IV (FAFSA) – and the universities will shut down about 90% of all non-STEM grad programs and probably 30% of STEM.

    Good riddance.

    artichoke in reply to stevewhitemd. | January 31, 2023 at 6:46 pm

    But UCSD Physics isn’t one of those we don’t need. The rot is cutting into muscle and bone.

Some TA’s are worth their gold others are pretty useless
I had some fabulous TA’s at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that used them to take notes in the sciences, also economics, etc. they would then type of their notes and sell them
They were priceless to me as I was a nurse working 3/4 time and occasionally had to miss a lecture for work and on top of it their notes were superior to mine.
I literally thought all Universities did it this way, hmm , no, but it was a win win for them financially and for the student.

Fat_Freddys_Cat | January 31, 2023 at 1:14 pm

Heh, the Left will say this is an example of how mathematics is “fascist”.

Well, to put it into terms academia might understand, it seems like the UC gets to new perspective on the intersection of organized labor, wages, productivity and price elasticity viewed thru the lens of budgetary constraints.

A reduced supply of PhDs has to be considered a good thing for society these days. And maybe if the profs have fewer TAs and actually have to teach and read student papers, they might have less time to contemplate ways to undermine western civilization.

The state depends on the University of California to produce the highly–skilled Ph.D. and masters degree recipients who are essential to its high-tech economy.

Then why the hell are they offering graduate programs in feminist studies?

UC is crying crocodile tears. If they have enough money to hire an army of DEI “experts” and administrators, if they have enough money engage in wokeism, if they have money to give to politicians and political campaigns, then they have enough money to pay their workers. The laying off of workers is pure retaliation. Their complaints about budget is merely pretext. They’ve raised taxes, tuition, and fees in the past, why can’t they do it now.

Take it out of the alumni donations.

    danvillemom in reply to 4fun. | February 1, 2023 at 9:25 am

    My husband and I both graduated from UC schools (engineering) – it will be a cold day in hell before we hand over a penny to either of our schools.

Capitalist-Dad | February 1, 2023 at 9:44 am

Leftist jerks get a harsh lesson on how real economics work outside of their ideological fever swamp. Too funny!

Econ 101: raise the minimum wage and see fewer job opportunities.. True at the level of unskilled labor, also at the vaunted level of grad student assistants. Pretty basic textbook stuff. Just ask some of those econ grad students.

“Alexa, why is college so expensive”?

Now the unions have their noses in the tent, and they’re gonna want to run/control everything. They only care that they have the maximum amount of people paying dues, not what the actual product costs the consumer.