As the flagship campus of the UC system, UC Berkeley straddles a middle ground between public universities and top-tier private universities. Though UC Berkeley is sometimes compared to Ivy League schools in quality, it stands out among both private and public schools for its relative affordability, large enrollment and diverse academic offerings. To examine what makes UC Berkeley unique, The Daily Californian investigated the paths that UC Berkeley students take after graduation and the impact that college has on their careers. Affordability

For students from lower-income backgrounds, higher education is a powerful gateway to climbing the income ladder. When compared to liberal arts colleges such as Amherst College or Ivy League schools such as Cornell University, the UC system enrolls a more diverse student body that includes undergraduates from all income brackets. Though its academic resources are often stretched thin, UC Berkeley provides a high-quality education to thousands of students each year who otherwise could not afford one.

“The public mission has historically been to ensure access to students,” said Tolani Britton, an assistant professor of education at UC Berkeley. “Today, (that) goal of access is fraught. … There’s so many students that want admission, even with the expansion of seats at UC Berkeley.”

The cost of attending a four-year public university jumped 35% over the last decade, according to the College Board. During the Great Recession, state funds allocated for public universities shrunk as tax revenue slowed and governments scrambled to patch economic emergencies. Today’s public universities are increasingly dependent on tuition and private donors for assistance. UC Berkeley is no exception, as declining funding from the state of California and the rising cost of living in the Bay Area strain both students and staff.

“There’s been relatively small rises in tuition in the last five years. … Since tuition is the dominant part of the university’s core revenue, that means that the net increase in revenues to the university is like 1% or 2%, whereas academic inflation is more in the 4-5% level,” said George Blumenthal, former UC Santa Cruz chancellor and director of the UC Berkeley Center for […]

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