The proposed tuition hike of 5 percent over each of the next five
years kicked off angry student protests last week and set the stage
for a potentially rancorous fight between the system's governing
board of regents and state lawmakers who oppose the increase.
Tuition is currently about $12,000 a year.
Students across the University of California system left classes at
noon on Monday, with more than 1,000 joining the largest protest at
the University of California at Berkeley, organizers said.
The Berkeley protesters, some clutching banners reading: "Fight the
hike" and "Public education for all," marched in front of a local
Hundreds walked out at other campuses, including Davis and San
Diego, but only a few dozen joined the action at UCLA, which has
more than 43,000 students.
"Education is a universal human right. These tuition hikes, as well
as concerted efforts by the UCs to privatize their schools, have
attempted to transform education from a right into a privilege,"
student protesters said in a statement.
The UC Board of Regents voted for the tuition hike last week,
pitting it against Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who had promised
to increase university funding only if officials agreed to freeze
Many in state politics view the tuition rise as a hardball tactic to
persuade Brown and the Legislature to increase funding for the
university, which suffered dramatic cuts and turmoil during the
recent economic downturn.
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University of California President Janet Napolitano has pushed Brown
to double the state's contribution to the university system, saying
it would make the tuition increase unnecessary.
Brown has said that to get more money, the university needs to be
run more efficiently and become more affordable by doing such things
as decreasing the time it takes for students to complete a degree.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle; Editing by Jill
Serjeant and Peter Cooney)
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