Officials, students debate funding change at UCLA’s MBA program

Judy Olian, dean of UCLA's Anderson School of Management.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Debate continued Thursday over the upcoming switch that will end any state funding for UCLA’s MBA program and make it dependent on tuition and donations.

UC system President Mark G. Yudof this week approved the plan with some measures to ensure the program remains under UC control. The proposal for financial “self-support” was advocated for nearly three years by leaders of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, but critics contend it is a step toward privatization of a public university.

Anderson school dean Judy Olian said her plan will allow more flexibility in assigning and paying faculty for additional courses and will encourage donors to give more money since they know that state funding is ending. She said that the change frees up about $8 million in state funds to support other UCLA programs.


Olian’s original plan called for the entire school to end state funding, but after opposition she limited the switch to the full-time two-year MBA program, which enrolls 720 students, and kept the doctoral degree and undergraduate accounting courses on public support.

Annual tuition and fees for the master’s was $48,243 for California residents in 2012-13, not including living costs and other expenses, and the school is seeking a hike to $52,112 for next year.

Under the change, the UC system president will decide future tuition levels, a switch from the traditional path that requires approval by the full UC regents board.

Olian said having tuition set by the UC president rather than the regents will give students faster and more predictable answers about costs, and she expects tuition hikes will be lower than under the old funding model.

However, Justin Chung, who heads the committee on graduate and professional schools for the UC system student association, said that taking tuition decisions from the regents reduces public opportunity to comment and challenge higher costs. Chung said he was “saddened” by Yudof’s approval of the Anderson proposal and described it as one unit seeking “to divorce itself from being part of a public university.”



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