Report: UC must spend millions to attract grad students

The Associated Press
Tuesday October 23, 2001

LOS ANGELES — The University of California system needs to spend $215 million annually to expand programs and financial support to attract graduate students, according to a commission’s report. 

The Commission on the Growth and Support of Graduate Education in a report to UC regents next month will warn that the system needs to add 11,000 graduate students to remain competitive and maintain UC’s research mission. 

The UC Board of Regents, deans, professors and outside academics agree that steps must be taken soon or the UC system’s goal of attracting top-notch researchers will be threatened. 

“UCLA, as well as the other UC campuses, are losing some of the most talented and potentially creative and productive graduate students to other institutions,” said Jim Turner, assistant vice chancellor of graduate studies at UCLA. 

The shortage of graduate students threatens all eight of UC’s general campuses, including longtime academic powerhouse UC Berkeley and younger institutions such as UC Irvine. 

California in the last decade was one of only five state where graduate enrollments declined. The other four were Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Connecticut. 

Undergraduate enrollment at UC campuses has doubled over the last three decades, but the number of graduate students has increased just 7 percent. The figures do not include students in professional programs, such as law, business and medicine. 

Unlike undergraduates, nearly all graduate students receive financial aid consisting of tuition reimbursement, fellowships, teaching assistant positions and health insurance. 

UC officials said they are trying to compete with private schools that have billion-dollar endowments. Some schools offer better financial packages and waive out-of-state fees. 

The high cost of housing near most UC campuses also is making the financial squeeze on students even tighter. 

Most UC schools have made limited efforts to raise money for graduate fellowships. UCLA has raised millions of dollars in the last seven to eight years, but less than 1 percent has gone to help graduate students, Turner said. 

UC Berkeley, like other UC campuses, is starting to address the problem individually. The school has launched a campaign to raise $200 million for graduate fellowships, said Mary Ann Mason, dean of the graduate division. 

UC Berkeley also is looking to partner with private developers to provide more affordable graduate student housing and UC Irvine is going to ask the regents to approve two major housing projects to serve graduate students.