UC doesn’t get it

If it wasn’t clear already, it is now. The Regents of the University of California have utterly lost touch with regular middle-class folk. The most recent evidence was the group’s vote in Davis last week to approve tuition increases at its campuses for law, business and other professional-degree students starting next fall. The fee hikes were approved, incredibly, at the same meeting where the regents approved heft pay raises for faculty.

The decision, which will affect about 11,000 students, will occur over the next three years, and add up to a 15 percent increase at certain schools. For example: A student who paid $25,500 to attend UC Davis’ King Law School this coming semester would pay $34,500 by the year 2010. A UC Berkeley’s law student’s tuition would rise from $26,900 to $41,000 during that same period.

The fee increase slams the door on many Californians—the ones who make the grades and have the desire—who should be able to attend school at these campuses. We’re talking, of course, about middle-class people, working people, underrepresented minorities. (Didn’t the regents get a report the day before a striking loss of diversity these last years on its campuses?)

There is no doubt that California is under-funding its higher-education system. But running up student fees—especially in a system still haunted by myriad scandals, outrageous executive-pay raises and status-over-substance expenditures—is the exact wrong way to go.