KCBS In Depth: Challenges At UC Berkeley

BERKELEY (KCBS) – Ongoing budget cuts in California have crippled many higher education institutions, who are trying to maintain a high level of excellence.

But, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said the news is not all bleak.

“We’ve actually managed to preserve the number of seats in class. We’ve reinvested in just the last two years,” Birgeneau said. “That’s partly been made possible by the increasing numbers of out of state and international students who have provided us with some new resources that have helped us replenish the educational programs.”

KCBS Interviews UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau:

Birgeneau said that even with the large influx of students from outside of California enrolling at Berkeley, they have had less overcrowding because of investments they have made.

“The target number for Berkeley for undergraduates when I came in 2004 was 21,000. We have gradually let that number drift up and we are now having the number drift back down,” he said. “We are still above our target number for Californians in our undergraduate body. So we have not displaced Californians. But we’ve invested in new classes so we have fewer overcrowded classes than we had three years ago.”

Birgeneau said that student’s concerns over tuition hikes are understandable and he is trying to work with state officials to prevent further increases.

“I met with the governor a couple of weeks ago and pleaded with him to stabilize our budget. Obviously, we want to see the budget increase but we can’t stand any more cuts,” said Birgeneau. “There is a very direct relationship between continuing cuts by the state and tuition increases. We need to significantly slow down the rate at which our tuition is increasing but at the same time, our students want a quality education.”

Birgeneau said that UC Berkeley continues to be ranked among the top tier of universities in the nation and he hopes that can continue in the future.

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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