Tuition policy for professional schools in the University of California currently requires that fee increases raise tuition no higher than those at similar public universities’ programs. The UC Regents have the power to grant exceptions to this policy, like they did last November when they raised fees at 44 programs, 24 of them to levels above the permitted averages.

But now the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Regents are thinking about going further, much further, with an astoundingly ill-considered plan.

Currently the professional school tuition policy requires that any proposed increase conform to “the total tuition and/or fees charged by comparable degree programs at other comparable public institutions.” But according to the Chronicle, the Regents are going to be voting later this month on a proposal to drop the word “public” from that passage.

Yes, you read that right.

The UC Regents want to use private universities as their benchmark for student fees.

It’s mind-boggling. It really is. Tens of thousands of California students are taking to the streets to oppose fee increases and cuts to public support for the university. The Regents are desperately trying to make the case that it’s the state legislature, not the university itself, that’s the students’ real enemy. The concept of the privatization of public higher education is just beginning to gain traction with critics of the university’s current direction.

And now the Regents want to take the word “public” out of their tuition policies?

Really? Really?