Council Approves Guidelines for Self-Supporting Programs
The Academic Council has approved guidelines drafted by the Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs (CCGA) for campus Graduate Councils and Committees on Planning and Budget (CPBs) to use in reviewing proposals for new Self-Supporting graduate degree Programs (SSPs) and new proposals to charge Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (PDST).
Self-Supporting Programs are targeted to specialized groups of non-traditional students seeking professional or technical training rather than embarking on programs that focus on academic research. They receive no support from the state and must generate their funding from student fees. In the context of declining revenues, some campuses believe they can serve more students and also generate revenue by creating more SSPs and instituting professional degree supplemental tuition. Indeed, one of the revenue generators recommended by the UC Commission on the Future is the creation of additional SSPs.
The Guidelines come after the systemwide Senate considered revisions to the existing policy on SSPs proposed by the Office of the President. Senate committees and divisions raised broad concerns about the impact of self-supporting programs on the University’s core educational mission. CCGA is working closely with the administration to revise the policy in order to address these concerns. The Guidelines describe procedures to be followed in implementing the policy.
In instructions to divisional Graduate Councils, CCGA suggests that reviews of proposals for new SSPs should address the potential impact of the SSP on existing graduate and undergraduate programs, paying particular attention to whether faculty resources would be diverted from academic graduate degree programs. CCGA also suggests that Graduate Councils, in consultation with divisional CPBs, review the financial viability, potential for revenue generation, and fiscal impact of such proposals. CCGA also is developing guidelines for assessing the conversion of state-supported programs to self-supporting status; it expects to send the guidelines to the Academic Council for consideration in May.
CCGA Chair James Carmody says that CCGA anticipates a significant increase in the volume of new SSPs being proposed in the foreseeable future, given the State’s financial difficulties.
“CCGA members feel strongly that evaluation of the budget impact should be an important factor in the review of new and existing programs,” he said. “I spent five terms on Graduate Council at UCSD and don’t remember seeing a single program review that didn’t comment on how gravely underfunded our graduate students are. No CCGA members feel comfortable approving new programs in the current climate when even the return of existing faculty FTEs cannot be counted on.”
In June 2010, CCGA and UCPB communicated principles to determine whether a program should be allowed to charge a professional degree fee. In April 2011, CCGA issued instructions to divisional Graduate Councils regarding the review of proposals to impose new professional degree fees. Consulting with campus Committees on Planning and Budget, Graduate Councils should ensure: 1) that the proposed fee does not adversely impact the diversity of the applicant pool; 2) that there is a viable job market for program graduates; and 3) that there has been adequate consultation with affected students and faculty.
Senate Chair Simmons says that while the Senate does not have authority over fees, it does have a responsibility to advise the administration on budgetary matters.
“It is important for faculty to be informed about fee increases and for CPBs to work with Graduate Councils and divisional chairs to ensure that proposals represent fees honestly. I am hoping that divisional senates carefully examine these. We have to ensure that these programs do not undercut regular academic programs.”