The UCLA Anderson School of Management has won the right to convert its full-time MBA programme to one that is self-supporting and completely free of state funding.

The decision by the governing body of the University of California System, which looks after all the California state universities, does mean Anderson will find it easier to raise tuition fees for the course. However, Judy Olian, dean of Anderson, says the real advantage is that it will make it far easier to raise philanthropic support. This should mean that fees might not need to rise as fast as they would have had to had the programme stayed in the UC System funding structure, she says.

“People are confused about what state support might be,” says Prof Olian, pointing out that net state support only covers 6 per cent of current tuition fees. The clarity of knowing that there is no state funding at all will help “alumni and philanthropic donors to step up to the plate”, Prof Olian believes.

Students will also benefit from the new arrangements, which will come into effect for the 2014 -15 academic year. “There will be greater predictability of the tuition fee process,” says Prof Olian, pointing out that the school has asked for a slight increase in fees for the MBA for the coming intake in September 2013, but that students are still having to wait to hear what fees they will have to pay.

Prof Olian also expects the school to benefit from having a greater degree of freedom to allocate teaching faculty across programmes. Anderson already has five programmes that have been self-supporting from the outset: a part-time MBA, three executive MBAs and a masters in financial engineering.

Anderson currently charges $96,486 for California residents and $109,060 for non-residents for its MBA programme. Tuition fees at top institutions such as Harvard Business School and the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania, average $126,000 and $122,000 respectively, according to the latest survey data collected by the FT.

Prof Olian has been spearheading a campaign to take the MBA independent of state support since 2010.

Anderson’s MBA programme will keep to certain conditions set down by the University of California, including a commitment to ensure that student financial aid continues to be offered for financially needy students at a level commensurate with other UC full-time state-supported MBA programmes.

Academic content and quality of the MBA programme will also continue to be reviewed by the University of California.The $8m of state funding that was going towards supporting the MBA programme will now be diverted to supporting undergraduate programmes across the University of California’s many campuses, according to the UCLA announcement.

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