An anonymous biennial Senate survey on tuition allocation suggests students oppose the recently announced 2.6% tuition increase.
The final results have not yet been processed for the survey sent last Thursday by Senate President Elena Ivanova, but initial responses also suggest students want their tuition money to go toward scholarships and other initiatives rather than infrastructure. UT System Chancellor James Milliken said the increase is set to match the 2.6% inflation rate in a November meeting previously reported on by the Texan.
“Students are not happy with the tuition increase, which is definitely expected,” Ivanova said. “There are various perspectives being presented in the responses, (including) students who are paying out of pocket costs for supplies … and how this increase is going to affect them personally.”
The survey received over 2,000 responses. 97% of students said they were against the tuition increase at first, but when told how UT planned to use the tuition money, the number went down to about 40%, said Usmaan Hasan, Undergraduate Business Council president.
“When you give students concrete reasons for the tuition increase, they understand a little bit more,” finance senior Hasan said. “The tuition increase that UT has proposed is mostly being spent on faculty salaries, Wi-Fi infrastructure, mental health services and student success initiatives.”
Ivanova, a public health, government and Plan II senior, said these are preliminary observations. Once the College Tuition Budget Advisory Committee gets the survey results, they will identify main priorities and present them to UT administrators to influence budget decisions.
Ivanova said the primary focus of the survey is to align next years’ budget allocations with student feedback.
In response to the survey, one student said “education, fair wages, and access to affordable housing are all interrelated and should be the main concerns of the University.” Students also said if tuition cost was going to increase, the University should work to decrease housing costs.
The majority of the responses came from the McCombs School of Business, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Fine Arts, according to survey results.
“A large majority of students said that they believe they’ll lose out on educational opportunities because of work … because of this tuition increase, and therefore might not have as much time to take classes or do research,” said Zoe De Beurs, Natural Sciences Council president.
De Beurs, a physics and astronomy senior, said in past years administration consulted the students’ survey responses before setting tuition for the next year, but this year they did not.
“It would be really great if a concerted effort is made to ensure student priorities are evident and clear before the tuition setting process begins,” De Beurs said. “Initially, we were told that they would need the results by February of this year, but then they ended up setting tuition in November.”
Ivanova said there should be increased conversations between the administration and student body on determining tuition increases and how that will affect other high cost items such as housing, food and textbooks.
Hasan said the College Tuition Budget Advisory Committee’s goal is to increase student involvement in the tuition allocation process.
“We know that tuition raises are inevitable, but if it’s going to happen, at least we’re spending money on things that are impactful to students’ lives,” Hasan said.