UT should eliminate or substantially reduce tuition rates for summer internship courses

Logan Green, Columnist

Internships are a great opportunity for college students to gain real-world working experience while learning more about their interests. These internships also help students make connections, build their resumes and can ultimately help them secure a job after graduation.

Many departments offer internship courses at UT, and some majors even make this a requirement — such as the government major and all majors within McCombs. These internship courses give students the opportunity to gain working experience and course credit at the same time.

However, UT shouldn’t charge students full tuition for internship courses during the summer, as this creates barriers for students who want or need to enroll in these courses.

Government senior Alexander Chapa chose not to enroll in his required government internship class this summer because of the financial burden of additional tuition costs. 

“I’m already taking some Spanish courses, and I’m already spending a good amount of money,” Chapa said. “But if you try to take (an internship course) in the summer, you end up paying a pretty hefty price. I decided it was in my best interest to wait for the fall or spring.”  

In the fall and spring, UT caps tuition costs at 12 hours, meaning most students prefer to add the internship course to their regular course load — as doing so won’t incur any additional cost. However, since students typically register for fewer than 12 hours in the summer, they aren’t able to take advantage of the tuition cap. This is unfortunate because the summer is an ideal time for students to take internship courses since they typically have more flexible schedules and fewer academic responsibilities. 

Finance junior Neha Boinapalli, who is taking an internship course this summer, feels that it would be much more challenging to meet the McCombs internship course’s hour requirement during the fall or spring academic semesters. 

“When you look at the requirement, it’s 160 hours. … In terms of meeting this requirement during the school year, it’s fairly difficult in my opinion,” Boinapalli said. “You’re expected to gain job experience, and juggling that on top of schoolwork and homework and everything, it seems very difficult.”

UT shouldn’t charge tuition for these courses, as the learning occurs outside of the University. In these internship courses, students learn from their employers as well as from on-the-job experience; UT is not responsible for this learning.

“I feel like we’re getting charged for something that’s independent (from UT) and where we’re learning from an employer,” Boinapalli said.

While UT does offer some aid and stipends for students working certain internships, financial funding usually requires students to fit specific eligibility requirements. Kathleen Harrison, assistant director of communications for the provost, said that UT does offer a zero-credit internship course. Although this course is free and allows for internship funding from UT, funding only applies to unpaid internships. Additionally, this course doesn’t offer students any academic credit hours, nor does it fulfill internship requirements for certain majors

Additionally, Harrison shared Home to Texas, a program where students can earn a $5,000 stipend to work a summer internship. However, this program is limited to first-year students and is intended to be done in their hometowns.

Internships are a great way for students to explore their interests and gain valuable experience relevant to their academic and career goals. However, by making students pay full tuition for these internship courses to receive credit, the University is profiting off student labor while sending a message that it is responsible for the skills and knowledge students learn during their off-campus internships.

The University can make internship courses more accessible during the summer by substantially decreasing or eliminating tuition for these credits.

Green is a government and social work sophomore from Cedar Park, Texas.