Wednesday, March 29

New Bruin Budget Model aims for even funding distribution

(Ashley Ko/Daily Bruin Staff)

UCLA’s new Bruin Budget Model will roll out July 1, altering UCLA’s system for allocating funding to different campus departments, schools and organizations.

UCLA’s current budget model is successful in times of high revenue growth, but unsustainable in times of low revenue, according to the Office of Academic Planning and Budget website. UCLA’s current budget model is also less transparent than the upcoming Bruin Budget Model regarding how campus groups can increase their revenue, according to the website.

The APB said in the emailed statement the new model will be implemented in multiple phases and include an activity-based budgeting component. Beginning with the first phase, UCLA will distribute tuition dollars to UCLA schools and divisions based on increases in activity, such as student instruction and enrollment. The first phase of the plan will draw primarily from UCLA’s general fund while subsequent phases may pull from other revenue sources, according to the statement.

Faculty discussed concerns regarding the effects of the new model’s processes for determining funding allocations.

Ozan Jaquette, an associate professor of education, said the model has the potential to limit graduate students’ opportunities to enroll in courses outside of their major by not increasing revenue allocated to graduate departments for enrolling students from outside academic units.

The APB said in an emailed statement that the purpose of the first phase is to allocate resources for campus organizations experiencing greater activity, such as higher student credit hours from enrollment and instruction. The university will determine changes in funding using formulas based on enrollment activities of undergraduates, graduate professionals and graduate academic master students, the APB added in the statement.

According to the APB, undergraduate students’ activity in their schools and divisions will be calculated by assessing the amount of students in a major and the number of credit hours taught in the previous year, with more weight placed on the latter.

However, for graduate students, activity will be entirely based on the amount of students per department, not the number of students enrolled in classes in the department, the APB added in the statement.

Jaquette said this method of assessment has the possibility of disincentivizing departments from opening up courses to graduate students from outside the department and providing adequate teaching assistants for interdisciplinary courses. Jaquette added that he has previously struggled to gain departmental support for enrolling students from outside his department in his own courses.

In October 2021, Jaquette wrote an op-ed published in the Daily Bruin advocating for the Bruin Budget Model to support graduate students enrolling in interdisciplinary courses. He discussed the budget model used by the University of Michigan, which informed plans for the Bruin Budget Model. Jaquette said Michigan’s model allowed him to take diverse courses as an education doctoral student – something he does not see available to UCLA graduate students in the social sciences.

“It’s valued by the students, but it’s not valued by my department. … Literally, it’s increasing costs,” Jaquette said. “They do not get any revenue for me enrolling students from other departments.”

Jeffrey Lewis, special assistant to the executive vice chancellor and provost for APB, said in an emailed statement that he will facilitate communication between UCLA’s administration and other members of the UCLA community by receiving ongoing feedback on the new model.

Lewis will chair a group of staff, faculty and deans who will assess the model, create a plan for implementation and make recommendations to the executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer, he said in the statement.

The coordinating group will help determine funding following recent changes in contracts with academic student workers, the APB added in the statement.

Students on the Academic Senate have already provided feedback on the model, the APB said in its statement, adding that the university will review the model every few years following its implementation to see where changes may be necessary.

Lewis said he will focus on implementing the model in a way that is effective and consistent with UCLA’s values.

“My primary priority is the development of the implementation plan for the Bruin Budget Model,” Lewis said in the statement. “In particular, to take great care that we make changes to UCLA’s budgeting model that achieve the goal of better aligning our budgets with our mission.”

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