Corrects to show student would fail if missed class, last paragraph
BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - Students and faculty at California's top public universities cut classes Thursday and protested against a 32 percent rise in tuition prompted in part by the state's budget crisis during the recession.
Students, staff and faculty aim to paralyze the University of California on what is the first day of class on most campuses.
The state's higher education system is widely credited with being behind much of California's innovation and technology.
Several dozen marchers shouted slogans at entrances to the University of California, Berkeley, known for its 1960s student protests and enduring liberalism.
"Is this the corporations' university? No!" went the call and response of about 50 circling protesters at one gate. They held signs like "Chop from the Top" -- suggesting the university system president be laid off.
"Usually people are pouring through here," said geography graduate student Alex Tarr, 27, who saw tuition hikes and staff cuts destroying the world-class public universities.
Schools like UC Berkeley and Los Angeles are a crucial source of talent for Silicon Valley, Hollywood and other breeding grounds for budding entrepreneurs.
"Without good education, all that goes away," Tarr said.
The state has closed a budget gap that forced it to issue IOUs with massive social services cuts and a $2 billion reduction in higher education financing over two years.
The University of California president, who oversees a 10-campus system with 220,000 students and 170,000 faculty and staff, wants to raise fees 15 percent next spring and another 15 percent a year from now.
A small but steady stream of students headed past the protest to class. Anurati Mathur, 20, a business and microbiology student, said she had a quiz that she would fail if she did not attend class. "I'm the one that loses," in that case, she said, adding that she admired the protests.
(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Mary Milliken)