UCLA Graduate School Looks To Become Private

September 21, 2011  |  

By J. Smith

UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management is willing to forsake the funding provided by the state in exchange for the right to act as an independent institution. If the deal is approved, the school would be allowed to function as though it was a private university, and it would save exponentially in the process. A victory for the Anderson Graduate School of Management could mean a potential victory for other prestigious professional schools hoping to cut the costs incurred by operating publicly and go private.

If Judy Olian, dean of the business school, is able to see her proposal to fruition, she will forfeit all state funding for her academic programs in exchange for “self-sufficiency.” That would grant her increased power to arbitrarily raise tuition and to pay prized professors competitive wages instead of the ones sanctioned by its larger governing body. “The rise in tuition and earnings from a presumed growth in the endowment would make up the shortfall,” CNN Money reports. “The business school would also be able to plan better without having to worry about appropriations catfights in the California legislature.”

Although the graduate school has the support of UCLA’s central administration, opponents argue that the change would be economically unfair. “The Anderson proposal, according to a faculty senate report, ‘does not account for the asset value of the school and the investment value to California taxpayers…from 75+ years of state support’,” CNN reports. “But the larger complaint is philosophical. They say ‘self-sufficiency’ is ‘privatization’ by any other name – which ought to be anathema to a school claiming a continuing ‘commitment to the public mission of the university.’”

Mission statements aside, it essentially boils down to a matter of profit. While the tax-paying community’s investment in the public university is threatened, the opportunity to double tuition dollars trumps that longstanding bond. Other schools – like the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business – went into self-sufficiency nearly 10 years ago and has since increased the size of the student body by one-third, raised tuition and fees to $52,000 and taken the reigns over its own budget, CNN Money reports.

With more schools looking to save money and escape federal regulations, universities across the country are looking to self-sufficiency as an out.

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