Concerns over privatization regularly flare up as the University of California system attempts to grow with limited state support. It is happening again, as UCLA's nationally-recognized M.B.A. program moves to a self-supported funding model.
Outgoing University of California President Mark Yudof recently approved a proposal that would cut UCLA's prestigious Anderson School of Management full-time M.B.A program loose of state funds, UCLA announced Wednesday.
The University believes the newly-granted financial model would allow the school's M.B.A program to gain greater control over its funding and tuition levels, rather than relying on traditionally unstable state support.
The status of the M.B.A. program, which currently receives 6 percent of its funding from the state, has been volleyed back and forth between faculty and administrators at both campus and University-wide levels since 2010. With Yudof's green light, the program will be funded entirely by student tuition.
Other areas of UCLA's campus stand to benefit from this move, which will free up $8 million to be rerouted to undergraduate programs, according to a statement from the university.
Some student leaders note that voter approval of Proposition 30 in November should expand funding for the UC system. They question the timing of the UCLA announcement given the decision by voters to increase taxes to support public education.
"Deciding as an organization that we're going to take part of ourselves and make it fully private and still maintain the University of California name, I think that is a move that's symbolic in a lot of ways," said Justin Chung, chair of the University of California Students Association Graduate Committee and graduate student at UC Irvine.
Chung said he thinks that severing state funding of the program - even if it comprises only a fraction of the school's total funds - would remove the public's stake in the direction of the program.
"The Anderson School was built through state money over the course of decades, and it benefited from its association with the greatest public university system in the country," said UC Student Regent Jonathan Stein, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley.
As the number of programs free of state funding grows, student leaders fear the UC's sense of public purpose and duty will be put at risk.
Anderson's nationally-recognized program was built by public funding. But it is clear that UC leadership has decided that the business school's future -- along with that of the 50 other self-supporting programs the University oversees -- increasingly rests with a different set of sponsors.
Photo of Mark Yudof by The Bee's Randy Pench.