UCLA leaders commit funds to maintain
high-quality undergraduate education
As state support for the University of California declines, campus leaders are making supplemental funding available to maintain UCLA's high-quality undergraduate education and provide the classroom seats needed to help ensure that first-year students make timely progress to graduation.
Deans have submitted comprehensive proposals to utilize funding to be allocated by Chancellor Gene Block and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh in the next few weeks. While the exact amount to be allocated has not been determined, campus leaders last April made $16 million available for use during the current academic year.
Photo by Stephanie Diani.
"We want to provide a sufficient number of courses and the right kinds of courses to enable undergraduates to move in a timely manner toward completing their degrees," Waugh said. "Maintaining a high-quality undergraduate education is one of our highest priorities."
The supplemental funding has allowed the campus to accommodate a larger-than-expected freshman class. Deans and department chairs are using the funding to hire the additional instructors and teaching assistants necessary to increase core course offerings in key fields, including General Education courses; skill courses such as composition, foreign languages and quantitative reasoning; and preparation classes for impacted majors.
By paying close attention to course enrollment patterns, deans and department chairs regularly make adjustments to ensure that entering students have the courses they need and to facilitate the progress of continuing students. In recent years, careful attention to enrollment and course planning has helped students achieve the highest-ever four-year graduation rate in UCLA history.
"Approximately 91 percent of our freshman class now earns a bachelor’s degree at UCLA. And of those who graduate, three-quarters (75 percent) graduate in four years or less, 21 percent graduate in five years and three percent graduate beyond the fifth year," Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Judith Smith said. "Our goal is to increase the number of freshman students who graduate in four years and work more closely with those interested in the option of graduating in three years," she said, noting that timely graduation helps to ensure access for additional incoming freshmen.
The supplemental funding is good news as UCLA prepares for Bruin Day Saturday, when the campus will welcome students who have been admitted to the freshman class and are considering enrolling in the fall. An estimated 15,000 students, parents and other guests are expected to attend.
As per-student state support for the University of California system has declined by about half over the past decade, the UC Board of Regents has increased tuition to help fill the gap with some of the revenue necessary to maintain academic excellence. But while some college campuses have had to drastically cut back on course offerings, UCLA has used careful planning and supplemental funding to meet important student enrollment needs.
"That doesn’t mean that every student gets every course she or he wants at the time they want it," Smith said. "But it does mean that we have worked very hard to determine what classes are needed and to manage course enrollment so that students’ needs are met."