Students protesting tuition hikes occupied a building on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, on Friday, while protests continued in other parts of the 10-campus system. The tuition hikes come in response to a budget shortfall in the state, which affects all parts of California's government.
The students were protesting a 32 percent tuition increase at the university, which is considered one the nation's best public institutions.
Several students were arrested after at least 50 students occupied a classroom building on the Berkeley campus early Friday. The standoff continued through the afternoon, as supporters on the campus banged drums and cheered.
Other students took over an administration building on the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz Thursday and remained there Friday. Students were arrested Wednesday and Thursday during protests on campuses in Los Angeles and Davis.
The controversial fee hike will be applied in two steps over the next two years. Students will pay more than 10-thousand dollars in tuition next year, far less than than the cost of private colleges but three times the price of the California system just a decade ago.
University regents also faced protesters Thursday, when they announced the tuition hike in Los Angeles. A student from the University of California, San Diego, said she will have to find an additional $3,000 next year, which is more than she can afford. "I have to already work to have extra cash to get by, and then with $3,000, it's more loans. I can't do it," she said.
University officials say the tuition hike will allow them to reinstate canceled classes, and they say they will ask the state for more than 900 million dollars in added funding next year.
Faculty members are now required to take a number of unpaid furlough days, which amounts to a salary cut, and they say the larger issue is the quality of education and the ability of UC campuses to attract top researchers and professors.
The state's other public university system - the 23-campus California State University - has addressed its budget shortfall through similar cost-cutting measures and tuition hikes. The two systems are subject to across-the-board cuts in public education, which are expected to worsen as California's fiscal problems deepen.
While the United States struggles to emerge from recession, California's budget analyst said this week that the state's budget deficit will grow to 21 billion dollars over 18 months because earlier revenue projections were too optimistic.