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Professor Laura Hamilton On How Privatization of Universities Has Devastating Consequences for Racial and Social Equity

June 7, 2021
HARRY HAYSOM FOR THE CHRONICLE

"The University of California system offers an ideal case to study intra-system resource distribution. In most states, regional universities make the largest contributions to equity and diversity for state residents, while flagship research universities are mostly exempt from this responsibility. The rationale for the imbalance is often that flagships are "a different type of university," with different research goals and different ways of benefiting the state. In the University of California system, however, all nine undergraduate campuses are classified as research universities, and system leadership asserts that they are equal in importance. 

Furthermore, each UC campus currently receives the same amount of state funding per undergraduate student, with the important exception of Merced. Opened in 2005, the campus received more support than its sister institutions -- but also took on enormous debt to build its physical campus in a huge public-private partnership. (All other UC campuses were built decades earlier, primarily with state funds.)

The issue is that, increasingly, funding disparities are not driven by the inequitable distribution of state funds for undergraduates. State contributions in California, and elsewhere, are now so low that they often make up only a small fraction of overall system revenue. Private funding has arrived in its stead, with devastating consequences for racial and social equity." 

Read more on why racial and class segregation in the UC matter so much in the Chronicle of Higher Education article here