California budget situation

kroner
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California budget situation

Postby kroner » Sat Oct 17, 2009 7:20 pm

I've heard a lot about California's cuts to UC programs, which include a bunch of the places I'm planning to apply to. I was wondering if anyone at one of those schools could tell me what concrete effects this has had on their experience there, and also if anyone knows how this will affect grad admissions. Are there plans to admit significantly fewer students this year?

nathan12343
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Re: California budget situation

Postby nathan12343 » Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:45 pm

This is from the point of view of an astronomy program at a UC school.

In answer to both of your questions: no, the budget situation has not impacted me or my department significantly. The most concrete effects are annoyance-level at the absolute worst (no more water cooler service, coffee prices went up slightly, administrative assistants have had hours cut and are unavailable in the morning and late afternoon, and the food quality at department events has gone down a bit).

As far as I know, my department is not planning on admitting fewer grad students since we are funded, on the whole, by grants awarded to individual professors by government agencies. Physics and Astronomy departments are net earners on the budgets of most universities since a significant portion of every grant goes towards administrative overhead.

kroner
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Re: California budget situation

Postby kroner » Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:36 pm

thanks nathan.

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noojens
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Re: California budget situation

Postby noojens » Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:36 pm

Eh, Nathan's view might be a bit optimistic. California's economy is a *** train wreck (approaching 20% unemployment rates statewide), and the state budget is a shambles. UC faculty and staff (including professors and research assistants) have had salary cuts and mandatory furloughs.

What effect will this have on admissions? It's uncertain. Physics research funding comes largely from NSF/DOE/DOD grants, which have actually increased in the last year due to the stimulus package. TA funding and internal fellowships, however, come from the state. My gut feeling (not to be confused with an informed or defensible position!) is that the number of students admitted with RA funding will remain constant or increase, but we'll see a decrease in students admitted to UC schools with TA funding. I'd also expect internal fellowships to be less common and smaller.

Time will tell.

amit
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Re: California budget situation

Postby amit » Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:02 pm

noojens wrote:we'll see a decrease in students admitted to UC schools with TA funding


As it stands, I know that more than a few UCs (including the one I'm currently attending) have more TA positions per quarter than grad students, so as a result they hire out undergrads or grads from other departments. Those non-physics TAs would be the first to lose their positions. By far the biggest use of TAs in our department is lower division physics for engineering/pre-med/pre-law/etc students and there's only so many class sections that you can cut while still fulfilling the department's obligation to educate all of them.

It certainly costs more to hire a grad student TA than an undergrad, but my limited understanding of UC bureaucracy tells me that the university doesn't get to tell the departments who to appoint for vacant TAships, and that if a grad student is appointed, they MUST have their tuition/health insurance/etc covered (that's actually part of the TA union contract).

This isn't to say that grad students/TAs wouldn't be hurt by California's bleeding coffers, but there's at least some protection/buffer right now, and grad student support ranks relatively small on the overall scale of most department expenditures.

CondMatProf
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Re: California budget situation

Postby CondMatProf » Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:18 am

The number of TA positions *IS* drastically reduced this year, compared to previous years, at most UC schools, as well as other universities - both state and (surprisingly) private schools.

The number of guaranteed TA positions defines the size of incoming class - much more so than the amount of research grants.

Our department reduced size of incoming class by about 1/3. Other schools are in a similar boat, as far as I know. We also have to severely limit number of foreign students (who are quite a bit more expensive in state schools). Meanwhile, several other top schools will NOT be accepting any foreign students this year.

On the other hand, the quality and quantity of applicants we have this year is noticeably better than last year, also due to poor economy. So for those of you applying this year it is a double-whammy - stronger field of applicants and less available positions.

fc_pga
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Re: California budget situation

Postby fc_pga » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:27 am

CondMatProf wrote:Meanwhile, several other top schools will NOT be accepting any foreign students this year


Would you be able to disclose which schools are not accepting foreign students this year? I have three UCs on my wish list and I'm extremely concerned about the situation, not having received any meaningful response thus far.

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grae313
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Re: California budget situation

Postby grae313 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:49 am

Seems pretty shady to accept their application money with no intention of giving them a chance for admission. The right thing to do would be to post an advisory on their website stating that the number of available spots for international applicants was extremely limited this year. If they know off the bat they won't be accepting any, it's not right to take their money.

username1
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Re: California budget situation

Postby username1 » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:15 pm

This probably doesn't affect many here, but stay away from the California State Universities (CSU). They've been hit much more severely by the state budget cuts... they are far more dependent on state funds than the UC is.

CondMatProf
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Re: California budget situation

Postby CondMatProf » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:36 pm

CSU are indeed more (almost entirely) dependent on state funding. UC's are typically only 15-20% state funded, the rest of budget comes from federal sources and tuition.

I was told (through our admission office people) that UC Santa Barbara intends to hire no foreign students this year.

Mataka
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Re: California budget situation

Postby Mataka » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:44 pm

CondMatProf wrote:CSU are indeed more (almost entirely) dependent on state funding. UC's are typically only 15-20% state funded, the rest of budget comes from federal sources and tuition.

I was told (through our admission office people) that UC Santa Barbara intends to hire no foreign students this year.


This does not make any sense ... like Grae said, if that's the case, then they should refund all the foreign students for their application fee ...

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noojens
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Re: California budget situation

Postby noojens » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:49 pm

Well, "hire" != "admit," in general. Maybe some foreign students will be admitted on fellowships, or without UCSB funding. We shall see, I guess.

But yeah, I agree that if a decision like that is actually made, it would behoove the institution to make it public in time to save a bunch of applicants their $75 or whatever.

Mataka
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Re: California budget situation

Postby Mataka » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:56 pm

noojens wrote:Well, "hire" != "admit," in general. Maybe some foreign students will be admitted on fellowships, or without UCSB funding. We shall see, I guess.

But yeah, I agree that if a decision like that is actually made, it would behoove the institution to make it public in time to save a bunch of applicants their $75 or whatever.


Ho ok, I see what you mean.

bodzio_g
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Re: California budget situation

Postby bodzio_g » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:31 am

Is tuition remission still an available option at these schools? I can somehow support my living expenses via part-time jobs, as long as I don't have to pay the tuition.




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